Human Services

Brighter Beginnings

Oakland, CA


To support healthy births and successful development of children by partnering with parents and helping to build strong communities.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Dr. Barbara McCullough Ph.D.

Main Address

2595 International Blvd.

Oakland, CA 94601 USA


financial education, parenting, health promotion, child development, fatherhood, early learning, mental health, life-skills, case management, pregnancy support, family support





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Family Services (Adolescent Parents) (P45)

Counseling Support Groups (F60)

Alcohol, Drug Abuse (Prevention Only) (F21)

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

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Teen Family Services

Family Health

Early Childhood Education

Community Strengthening

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Charting Impact

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Brighter Beginnings seeks to engender the five success factors for healthy families – resilience, strong community connections, parenting and child-development knowledge, financial security, and healthy and happy children – in all of our work. For those who live in resource-rich communities such family success is easier to maintain against a backdrop of steady employment, strong family and community ties, great school districts, and professional resources (and the funds to secure them) when outside help is needed. In the low-income communities we serve mere survival is at stake, liquor stores appear on every street corner and playgrounds are the site for drug deals. Jobs are scarce and fathers are even scarcer in their children's lives. There is a flourishing payday loan industry, but stores that sells fresh food are absent. Stress and trauma are commonplace, and there is little help available.

This is the reality for thousands of East Bay families that Brighter Beginnings serves. Helping families uncover their strengths and develop a path towards self-sufficiency and well-being is challenging. But over time and with adequate support, our families are eager to take the crucial steps toward self-sufficiency, and health and happiness that are every family's right, and the key to every community's success. The Brighter Beginnings mission to “support healthy births and successful development of children by partnering with parents and helping to build strong communities“, gains its strength and aspiration from our core belief and vision that, every family matters, and every child deserves a happy, healthy future.

Four years ago, the Board of Directors at Brighter Beginnings identified an opportunity to increase our clients' health and well-being by becoming a direct healthcare provider. Evidence has been mounting that culturally appropriate healthcare delivered in a setting adjacent to critical social services improves outcomes for low-income people. The Board believed that Brighter Beginnings had the capacity to deliver this promising healthcare model and doing so would further our mission. The Board's move began a gradual integration and development of our capacity to provide healthcare resulting in the 2013 launch of our RotaCare Free Clinic at our Richmond site. We have continued to pursue this growth, and in 2014 will be launching full-scale, family health clinics at our Richmond and Antioch locations. Eventually this growth will expand to Oakland as well, enabling Brighter Beginnings to make an even greater impact on community health in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

Brighter Beginnings believes in building solid foundations for children that continue throughout their lives, and which must begin by addressing the social networks, economic stability, health inequities, and neighborhood environments that often engulf families limiting their capacity for success. Families survive, and usually thrive, when they have strong social connections, know how to bond with and nurture their children, have access to culturally appropriate services to meet their needs, and have financial stability. Consequently, we have enhanced our core services - case management and home visiting to support healthy births and successful development of children– to overcome the barriers to client's economic success and well-being. We are working to change parents' attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to their finances and career goals to position them and their children for better lives. We are also working to build protective factors for our families by strengthening their ties to healthcare and healthy behaviors by offering them a healthcare clinic that can be their “medical home" in conjunction with our comprehensive services.

We work holistically with clients at five centers located in low-income neighborhoods in Oakland, Antioch and Richmond and in community settings such as schools and neighborhood centers. Because multiple supportive services to address the social determinants of health - ranging from a health clinic, to early childhood development and assessment, to Family Financial Fitness, and Fatherhood groups - are collocated at our centers we are able to work with clients to address a range of overlapping concerns. We serve about 2,700 people per year, most of whom are teen parents, low income families, or undocumented immigrants.

As our mission is to support the physical and psychological health of children, we employ frameworks that inform our work in each of these areas. The “Life Course framework" is an epidemiological approach focusing on the different factors at various life stages, social, and structural contexts that encourage or inhibit good physical health; the “Strengthening Families framework" is a tool for identifying protective factors that make a family a safe and stable place for a child's healthy psychological development. Together, these two perspectives guide our holistic strategies to support both health and development. And, because we recognize the role that stable, well-paying employment plays in supporting a family's well-being, we've integrated pro-work elements in all of our programs. We help clients identify goals and then support them on their paths toward career and independence.

Brighter Beginnings has a capable management team. Barbara McCullough, Ph.D., has over 40 years of experience in non-profit management, and has served as Brighter Beginnings' Executive Director since 1996. Dr. McCullough is an Organizational Psychologist with expertise in systems for strengthening families and improving health outcomes through building strong, peer-supportive communities. Our Chief Financial Officer is a CPA, and we have two full-time accountants who support fiscal operations. Brighter Beginnings employs a diverse staff, many of whom are ethnically and linguistically representative of the communities we serve. All of our Program Managers and close to half of our staff have Master's Degrees in areas such as Public Health, Social Work and Counseling.

Brighter Beginnings staff who work directly with clients are home visitors, case managers, and clinicians. They are known as Family Advocates in our Teen Family Services and Black Infant Health programs; Fatherhood Coaches in our Male Involvement program, Parent-Child Educators in Early Head Start and Clinicians in Mental Health. All have at least college level work and training in child or family development, family health, and social work fields of practice. Our RotaCare Free Medical Clinic is staffed by volunteer physicians and nurses, and allied health professionals, such as social workers and medical translators. Our community clinic is currently staffed primarily by interns in a Family Nurse Practitioner Program of Samuel Merritt University who are supervised by faculty. As our healthcare clinic expands in 2014 we intend to employ a full-time medical staff.

Brighter Beginnings Board of Directors is ethnically diverse and is also diverse in age, gender, race and skill sets and includes two MD's (Pediatrician, OBGyn), banking executive, business and real estate professional, marketing professional, attorney, former elected official, and foundation executives.

BB has ample experience in collecting, storing, and evaluating data to track client characteristics, outcomes, and assess the effectiveness of our services. We have worked closely with public sector and private funders to ensure that our data collection meets their requirements and achieves the highest level of accuracy and reliability.

Brighter Beginnings uses Social Solutions Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) client management database in several of our programs to track client data; enter screening, assessments and survey data; track and allocate staff time, and create reports for tracking outcomes for evaluation as well as continuous quality improvement. We have held a license for an enterprise ETO since 2008, and we use ETO for most of our programs including Teen Family Services, which has five different funding streams; and Black Infant Health. Additionally, ETO is used to track client data and outcomes by funders for two major programs: Antioch First 5 Center, and for the SparkPoint Centers. We used ETO as the data and evaluation tool for two federally-funded Center for Substance Abuse Prevention programs (Brothers and Sistas); these grants required extensive evaluation data and reporting and we were recognized as a model program for both efforts.

Brighter Beginnings has initiated a Results Based Accountability (RBA) process to advance our efforts to measurably improve the well-being of clients in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. We are currently engaged in a process to define agency and program measures of what we are doing, how much we are accomplishing, the quality of our work and to what extent anyone is better off as a result of our actions. A program measure for the Teen Family Services program, for example, is the percentage of our clients who are using contraception. The goal of our RBA work is to be able to identify the key indicators that will allow us to track the effect of our interventions on community members.

In 1979, a group of Oakland community organizations responded to an epidemic of illness and death among black infants in Oakland's poorest neighborhoods. They worked to connect mothers with health care and other support services, eventually forming the East Bay Perinatal Council in 1984. In 2007, it was renamed Brighter Beginnings to better reflect the agency's expansion into a family-based model, with a focus on the “beginnings" of life and incorporating early child development, fathers and siblings, care, and the need to impact the “social determinants of health" to promote strong families and communities that support families and children. Brighter Beginnings' approach was validated when the State of California adopted the culturally competent and highly effective Black Infant Health outreach and case management model that has been key to reducing the East Bay's black infant mortality rate.
Over the years, Brighter Beginnings has increased its capacity to respond to emerging community needs. We have added programs like Nurturing Parenting support groups, facilitated child-play classes, Yoga for mothers, mental health services, fatherhood development, sex education and STD/HIV prevention interventions. We have established child development and school readiness programs for young children. In addition, we have designed and implemented several best practice models of pregnancy prevention, HIV/AIDS prevention, substance abuse prevention, and violence prevention.
The clients that we have helped support are a meaningful measure of our progress. Trayvania – or “Tray," for short – faced multiple challenges when she came to Brighter Beginnings. As a teen mom, Tray was learning how to be a parent to her son Zion, finish high school, and grow up fast – all with little financial support. Tara enrolled in the Teen Success program in Antioch in 2012, and worked with Tara, our Teen Success Coordinator. Tray received information about public benefits and medical care, and Tray used the Teen Success Class to identify her strengths, set educational goals, and develop her parenting skills. In 2013, Tray completed her first year of Brighter Beginnings Teen Success group and graduated from Independence High School. Soon after graduation, Tray found a job and received a scholarship that she put toward a culinary arts program at a local college. Tray is a loving mother to her son Zion - with insight into his development- and is looking forward to a brighter future.
We are inspired by the progress we witness in the clients we serve, such as Tray and Zion. Because a quarter of children under age 18 live in families who are below the poverty level in California and poverty is more concentrated in the communities we serve like Oakland, Richmond, and Antioch, we recognize the enormity of the problems we face. Brighter Beginnings, however, has the track record, plans, and capabilities to make meaningful improvements in families' lives.

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Brighter Beginnings

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?