Oscar Corcoles, the co-founder of Fuerza Santa Cruz and Director of Services and Housing at Housing Matters, has been named the 2023 NEXTies Giveback Person of the Year. The community nominated Oscar for his unwavering dedication to Santa Cruz County through not only his work at Housing Matters but in the resources he’s been able to provide Latinx youth on their path to higher eduction.

In his role at Housing Matters, Oscar works diligently to resolve homelessness and help people through transitional housing. Then, in his personal life, he fills a different gap in making sure Santa Cruz County is a safe, equitable, and thriving places to live. In 2020, Oscar began organizing beach and outdoor soccer sessions through Fuerza Santa Cruz in an effort to provide more kids in the community with access to sports programs and prepare them for higher education.

Fuerza Santa Cruz also runs back-to-school and holiday drives to support local families. Furthermore, the collective distributes scholarships to first-generation students, making higher education a realistic possibility for more kids throughout Santa Cruz County.

Get to know Oscar below and be sure to join the NEXTies award show happening at Woodhouse Brewing on March 31. Get your tickets here.

Describe what you do in two sentences:

Oscar: I am a community organizer, who strives to create safe healing spaces for our community through sports and mentorship.

What inspired you to pursue your current path, and how did you get started?

Oscar: Throughout my years at the University, I learned about systemic and structural systems that were built to keep people that look like me from succeeding. I knew then that I needed to help combat these systems. I grew up in Santa Cruz and was involved in several programs. I was involved in soccer from outdoor, to futsal, and even beach soccer. These type of activities and open spaces are what kept me engaged in my community. After college, I wanted to
bring back similar programs and after reaching out to a couple non-profits and was turned down, I took it upon myself to start free beach and outdoor soccer sessions.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement so far in your career, and why?

Oscar: Our biggest achievement is the creation of our Fuerza. Through Fuerza we have been able to organize a series of back-to-school drives and holiday drives. Our collective also distributed multiple scholarships to first generation students of Santa Cruz. We have created a soccer team for the Beach Flats community youth. The soccer team has participated in soccer tournaments.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

Oscar: I am looking forward to upcoming tournaments our beach soccer team will compete in.

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What are your future career goals and aspirations?

Oscar: Continue to grow Fuerza as a force in our community. We want to build out more soccer program activities for the youth.

What role do you believe mentorship and networking have played in your success?

Oscar: Mentorship and network have played a huge role in our success. Without networking we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish everything that we have. It is a full community co-operation. It couldn’t have been done without the support of the community.

How do you stay connected with your community?

Oscar: In order to continue doing this work, community involvement is essential. We are having conversations and hold community with the families we serve. We are constantly engaging with the folks in our community and getting feedback on how we can expand our services. We have been flexible and adaptable to the needs of the community we serve.

Oscar Corcoles NEXTies
Through Fuerza Santa Cruz, Oscar has created a soccer team for the Beach Flats community youth and have participated in soccer tournaments. Credit: Oscar Corcoles

What does being a NEXTie honoree mean to you?

Oscar: Honestly it is bittersweet. As much as I appreciate being nominated, I know that there is still so much work to be done. It is too early for me to celebrate. We are just getting started. I plan on taking this moment to honor the youth of our Fuerza soccer team, and how much we have grown.

Who will be joining you at this year’s NEXTies award show on March 31?

Oscar: My children will be my guests at the NEXTies.

Anything else you would like to share?

Oscar: We are just getting started.

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