Our Vision

The vision for Oakstop Alliance stems from our years of community-focused arts programming and our recognizing that artists, community thought leaders, creative curators and small business owners often overcompensate to fill educational, economic and cultural voids in community of color. Ironically these practitioners tend to be severely under-resourced, lacking the mentorship, technical assistance and capital funding necessary to deliver essential programs and experiences to their communities in a sustainable and healthy manner.

our Mission

Recognizing that arts programming led by local creatives has a profound community benefit, Oakstop Alliance works directly with cultural practitioners to:

Empower creatives to curate experiences

  • Enabling curation of culturally relevant & robust events
  • Significantly reducing program overhead for artists
  • Leverage a portfolio of black-operated creative venues (featuring a full recording studio, 10+ gallery spaces & 2 event halls) to host progressive artists

Provide business mentorship to creatives

  • Promoting economic viability for entrepreneurs who pursue careers in the arts & humanities fields
  • Investing in arts projects and endeavors that present a clear community benefit to low-middle income communities
  • Developing partnerships with progressive corporate & financial entities to enhance core financial skills & competencies for creative entrepreneurs.
Image Image Image

Our People

Our programs are effective in supporting underfunded artists and entrepreneurs because our peer to peer services are relevant and our team is composed of artists and creative entrepreneurs. Much of what we provide is support, networking, research, technical assistance, and funding preparation to artists and entrepreneurs who need some development in order to qualify for the next phase of programming, funding, incubation, or educational programming.
An important facet of this methodology is providing one on one advising to build rapport and trust, warm introductions to clients who might not otherwise have an “in'' at various funding organizations, and regular follow up to ensure that clients are fully and deeply supported.
In Silicon Valley, warm introductions are both priceless and, for those without well-connected networks, prohibitive. Our work aims to create a Bay Area Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in which anyone with a desire to start their own business can thrive, creating wealth for generations to come.

Damon Johnson

Founding Executive Director

Damon Johnson (he/him) is a proven marketing executive with a 20 year history of driving strategy and producing premium culture and sports marketing events for some of the biggest household brands in the world (including MTV, Red Bull, and Verizon).

Damon channeled his success in corporate America to launch his social enterprise, Born & Raised Marketing, which consults cultural institutions on how to increase the community impact of their live events by utilizing diverse vendors and partnering with cause driven organizations.

After consulting for a myriad of non-profit cultural organizations in the Bay Area, Damon became the founding Executive Director of Oakstop Alliance in 2020, leveraging a strong tie to local businesses and community leaders to launch the Oakland Black Business Fund.

Damon lives in East Oakland, CA with his wife and 9 year old son. A graduate of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie NY, he double majored in Political Science and Sociology. He is a mentor to a revolving cohort of young aspiring filmmakers in the Youthbeat Apprentice Program and has written and delivered entrepreneurship curricula for the initiative. Damon is also a board member of the West Oakland food justice organization and urban farm park, City Slicker Farms and serves as the co-chair of the de Young museum’s children’s event “deYoungsters Day Out.” The event recently welcomed 6,000 people to a free day of artist-led creative activities and raised $500,000 for the museum’s educational programs, which will benefit low-income students in Oakland and San Francisco.


our HIstory

Oakstop Alliance was established in 2020 to curate experiences for communities of color in the East Bay. Our evolution to serving black artists, small businesses and entrepreneurs was informed by theCOVID-19 and the state-sanctioned murder of George Floyd.

Learn more about our journey below!

January 2020

Oakstop Alliance is established in Oakland, CA.

February 2020

OA launches its first series of curated programs ranging from community dance and yoga classes to youth STEM events and poetry workshops.

March 2020

All programs are halted due to the global pandemic and local shelter-in-place order. OA begins partnering with organizations providing essential services and community relief like Meals on Wheels Alameda County and the Shield the Bay PPE initiative.

June 2020

Amidst the civil unrest in Oakland due to the state sponsored murder of George Floyd, the Oakland Black Business Fund is established to assist black-owned small businesses repair their damaged and defaced storefronts.

December 2020

After expanding the service offering for the Oakland Black Business Fund to offer technical assistance services to non-brick and mortar businesses as well, OBBF ends the year with a volunteer team of over 70 and $200,000 granted to small businesses in Oakland.

May 2021

Oakstop Alliance is a founding partner of the Black Culinary Collective in East Oakland, a 4 month cohort for food startups to accelerate their brand growth and operate in a professional kitchen.

December 2021

At the end of 2021, OBBF celebrates over $600,000 granted to over 150 black-owned small businesses while still remaining 100% volunteer operated.

February 2022

Oakstop Alliance launches the Sounds of Oakland initiative, a residency program for touring artists to collaborate with musicians in Oakland to create progressive work that will expand the visibility and economic opportunity of our arts scene.

April 2022

Oakstop Alliances celebrates its first anniversary of mentorship/partnership with Gold Beams, a cultural events curator and advocate for young black arts entrepreneurs in the Bay Area.

June 2022

OBBF celebrates its 2nd anniversary and relaunches the offering, focusing on providing businesses essential start-up services that enable them greater business security and the ability to pursue larger funding opportunities.

August 2022

Oakstop Alliance is awarded the Oakland A’s Social Impact Award for its work operating the Oakland Black Business Fund.

December 2022

Oakstop Alliance releases “Royalty Summit,” its first album from the Sounds of Oakland music initiative. The 12 track album was recorded over 3 days in Oakland as a residency collaboration between independent hip-hop artist, Homeboy Sandman, and over 20 Oakland musical artists and professionals.

    Get Involved

    Your support means the world to us and to our partners.

    First and foremost, click on our program pages and learn about each and every artist we support. We promise you’ll love one (all) of them!

    Check out opportunities to come hold space with us… we have a robust events calendar.

    And of course, if you can support our efforts with a one-time or recurring donation, you will be investing in the black small business/arts community of Oakland and have our forever gratitude!


    Make a donation

    Private or Organizational
    Your tax deductible donation will support us in this mission and will be applied to our greatest organizational need whether it be staffing or programming.
    Learn More

    Become a Partner

    Our growing resource network
    We appreciate and applaud their commitment to our creative and economic communities of color in the Bay Area!
    Learn More

    Hire a Black Artist

    Let us connect you
    What what type of project are you seeking creative help?

    Patronize a black-owned business

    Let us connect you
    What good/service are you looking for?

    This year Oakstop Alliance and Damon have helped grow our company’s brand awareness significantly by providing us opportunities and spaces that we would have otherwise not have had access to. In particular, the space Oakstop Alliance gave us access to allowed our Networking Brunch to grow in size and host professional panels that in turn gave the community access to more equitable knowledge.

    In the future, we look forward to continuing to work with Oakstop Alliance because we see the impact their work has had for us and in turn the art community in Oakland!


    Shawn Fendt

    Oaktown Soul

    I can’t thank Oakstop Alliance enough. What Oakland Black Business Fund provided me with their technical assistance program goes beyond any monetary figure I could’ve received. OBBF gave my business an identity, for which I’ll forever be grateful!


    Catherean Mitchell

    Mitchell’s Transport

    We need you!

    Together we do really great things for the Oakland Community. Your tax-deductible donation goes a very long way to changing lives.

    Get the newsletter

    Stay abreast of everything happening in the Oakstop Alliance world. Art, events, entrepreneur resources... all direct to your inbox!