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In 1964, Reverend Leon Sullivan started the first OIC Job Training Center in Philadelphia. He enlisted businesses and government organizations to help him train unemployed members of the community. After the students graduated, they were placed in jobs with the businesses who helped train them. It was a win-win – businesses had employees with the most desirable and necessary skills, and students found sustainable and rewarding careers. When Reverend Sullivan told business leaders about his idea, they said, “Oh, I see!” Fittingly, he named his training center OIC as a result.
Meanwhile, across the country, Father John Sweeny was a pastor for an East Palo Alto church. He saw that in contrast to the surrounding towns, East Palo Alto was plagued by high rates of unemployment, poverty, and crime. He wanted to address this disparity and help his community members find and keep worthwhile and well-paying jobs.
Using Reverend Sullivan’s ideas as a model, Father Sweeny recruited more than 300 community and church leaders to help. In 1965, they found an old warehouse at 1100 O’Brien Drive and transformed it into a training and job placement center. The new training center was called “OIC West,” or OICW.
In 1994, OICW moved into its current location at 1200 O’Brien Drive in Menlo Park. The County of San Mateo opened offices on our campus in 1998, and both Cañada College and Sequoia Adult School have joined our campus as well.