Since 1998, EORO has remained dedicated to its mission to divert incarcerated youth from a life in prison to become productive community members through mentor-based performing arts and academic tutoring, and health and life skills programs, serving over 1,850 youth and engaging over 3,500 community members. EORO was founded as an arts advocacy organization whose roots were planted in the exploration of theater-based strategies that could effectively break the cycle of violence and divert youth, particularly young men of color, from the adult prison system. EORO believes that youth behind bars are children, first and foremost; that one-on-one mentoring through the creative act of playwriting, academic tutoring and life skills workshops provides the best way to positively influence and change the image that both incarcerated youth and society hold of them. Using the arts and education, EORO is transforming the lives of high risk youth in San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties to assist them on the path to becoming successful adults and in breaking the cycle of violence that entraps so many of their peers by connecting them to their communities through the transformative power of the arts and education.
EORO received the New American Community Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency in 1999, and was chosen as one of thirty-six extraordinary organizations that transform lives and strengthen communities by The San Francisco Foundation in 2007. EORO helped author and pass AB622 in 2008, which lowered the General Education Development Testing (GED) age to begin testing for youth that are detained in detention and mental institutions, affording them the opportunity to receive a GED. The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities recognized EORO as one of 50 finalists for the 2010, 2013, and 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. In 2011, EORO received the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development’s First Annual Outstanding Workforce Partnership Award, in collaboration with the Success Center of San Francisco. The National Endowment for the Arts has recognized EORO’s Playwriting Program as one of the Nation’s outstanding Arts Education Programs serving incarcerated youth.