Social Equity Program

Our targeted educational programs will prepare you to overcome hurdles and avoid unnecessary risks.

Oaksterdam is Here to Help

Oaksterdam University’s Educational Programs promote education as the path to equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry. OU fights to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities and to address the disproportionate impacts of the War on Drugs in those communities.

You will benefit from a strong education that prepares you to compete. Oaksterdam is committed to providing the knowledge and skills required to succeed within and around the evolving cannabis industry. 

Oaksterdam DEIB Mission Statement

At Oaksterdam, a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment is one where all team members and students, whatever their race, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, color, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or identity, language ability, disability, veteran status, domestic partner status, marital status, parental status, AIDS/HIV status, height, weight, education, or socio-economic status feel valued and respected.

We are committed to a nondiscriminatory approach and provide equitable opportunity for access to education programs and collaborations, with a commitment to equal employment and advancement in all of our departments.

We respect and value diverse life experiences and heritages and ensure that all voices are valued and heard. Oaksterdam University is committed to modeling diversity and inclusion for the entire cannabis industry and related sectors and maintaining an inclusive environment with equitable treatment for all.

The City of Oakland designated Oaksterdam University an Authorized Education Provider for Social Equity Technical Assistance. Click here if you are already qualified to receive FREE technical assistance services from Oakland’s Race and Equity Program.

Visit the City of Oakland website to learn the steps to become a verified social equity applicant and qualify to receive free education from OU. Grant and Loan funds are limited.

City of Los Angeles
Department of Cannabis Regulation, Social Equity Business, Licensing, and Compliance Program

August 2020-Current

Oaksterdam is a vendor for the City of Los Angeles Social Equity Business, Licensing, and Compliance Program; the most extensive single cannabis market globally and the largest cannabis equity program functioning in the United States. OU is building an expansive curriculum for L.A.’s Learning Management System, executing webinars, instructional videos, and 1:1 professional, business development coaching, and supply chain mixers.

Employer Support includes workforce development, coaching, and career fairs (in-person and virtual) with a toolkit of templates for the employee lifecycle, including adherence to labor laws. Visit to learn more. 

City of Palm Springs
Department of Special Programs Compliance Social Equity Program

January 2022-July 2023

OU provides Cannabis Social Equity Workforce and Business Development technical assistance to cannabis businesses and verified EAs. The program included assessments and placement of equity applicants into existing Oaksterdam programs, plus proprietary course development and video production for “Starting a Cannabis Business in Palm Springs.”

OU implements surveys to Equity Participants and provides outreach and administrative services. A second grant supplement added to the original scope of work includes Special Programs Staff cannabis competency training and program development. For more information visit the Palm Springs website and find information for social equity program verification.

Applications / Eligibility

You must begin by qualifying as an Equity Verified Individual directly with your City or County.
Each local government is defining social equity eligibility and providing assistance differently.

Under the Governor’s Program for Business Development Services (GO-Biz), a city or county can apply for grant money to set up their local social equity assistance program, or apply for more grant money for direct assistance to equity-qualified businesses and applicants. The locality then selects providers of these services. 

As a qualified/verified Equity Applicant, you can try requesting tuition for Oaksterdam’s education programs directly from your local cannabis program manager or grants manager. OU is ready and able to work directly with municipalities who receive these grant funds, listed in the Cannabis Equity Grants Program for Local Jurisdictions.

What is California’s Social Equity Program?

Per the California Cannabis Equity Act, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control has chosen GO-Biz to administer the Cannabis Equity Grants Program for Local Jurisdictions to aid local equity program efforts in supporting equity applicants licensees. Offering technical support, regulatory compliance assistance, and assistance with securing the capital necessary to begin a business will further the stated intent of the AUMA by reducing barriers to licensure and employment in the regulated industry. Offering these types of support will also aid the state in eliminating or reducing barriers to entry.

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) serves as the State of California’s leader for job growth and economic development efforts. GO-Biz offers a range of services to business owners, including attraction, retention and expansion services, site selection, permit assistance, regulatory guidance, small business assistance, international trade development, assistance with the state government, and much more.

No conflicts of interest with Oaksterdam University

Oaksterdam University will not perform consultant services that ultimately compete with students for licenses. OU views this as a bad business practice and unfair competition for our students, to whom we owe equal education regardless of their inclination or ability to pay for perceived additional or related services. Students deserve our very best without being “upsold” or a piece of their future income taken in exchange for an education.

Oaksterdam University will not violate the trust we hold with officials and regulators, whom we also train and advise. Oaksterdam University does not participate in any type of financial agreements or revenue share with any cannabis businesses.

While the Cities of Oakland, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles have contracted with Oaksterdam University to provide professional, business, and workforce development guidance, the Cities are not responsible for the content of the vendor’s communications, nor endorse or support any content that may be contained on Oaksterdam’s website or in its communications.

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Education You Can Trust

Advocates of Cannabis Equity

OU Alumni include the first Black equity owners in Oakland and San Francisco, the first cities to begin functional equity ownership programs.

We do not come recently into the support of BIPOC-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses. OU has been working for years with Success Centers, Minorities for Medical Marijuana, and others to provide scholarships and grants. OU is on the NCIA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Oaksterdam empowers our alumni to rise and seize the opportunity for equity business licenses. 

Social justice is a foundation of our Oaksterdam family, evidenced by the marijuana policy reform battles we fought and won to medicalize, decriminalize and legalize. Chancellor Dale Sky Jones and faculty fought for years to include these community restoration policies and funds side-by-side, serving on the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Cannabis Reform alongside the Directors of the William C. Velasquez Institute and the NAACP of California and Hawaii.

Pioneers of Cannabis Policy Reform

Oaksterdam leaders and faculty are pioneers and continue to lead in social justice, policy reform, equity, advocacy, and education. OU has educational roots going back to our founders fighting for medical patient rights to the US Supreme Court on behalf of medical cannabis patients in the 1990s. Oaksterdam became a community center for meetings for many advocacy and business groups, as well as support and education for patients around the world. OU and our Alumni have played a vital role in revitalizing neighborhoods, both serving and hiring the local community.

Our faculty helped write:

  • California’s Proposition 215 (1996),
  • Senate Bill 420 (2004),
  • Medical Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act (2015),
  • Adult Use Marijuana Act (2016)
  • and multiple state ballot initiatives and laws.

We continue to advise on the legislation and regulation of cannabis by local, state, and international governments and agencies. Regulators, elected officials, local governments, and city employees have been studying with Oaksterdam for years to determine their regulatory practices and taxation plans. 

We have demonstrated a focus on successfully crossing digital divides, financial barriers, and accessibility difficulties faced by participants – consistently, with respect and human dignity intact.

We Don’t Change the World, Our Students Do

Oaksterdam is trusted. The “big tent,” OU leaders work with many different groups and vastly different special interests to find common ground and inclusiveness where it may have previously been difficult or even impossible. OU has a proven track record of successful inclusivity and intentional diversity in hiring faculty, staff, and leadership. Alumni also exhibit this variety of every age, ethnicity, educational, and socio-economic backgrounds.