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Jamal Bernardez



Jamal Bernardez

Jamal, the Co-Founder and CEO of OXO, was born and raised in Vallejo and Berkeley, respectively. He is a Bay Area Native with a Honduran Father and an African American Mother. Jamal has spent most of his life playing soccer for local teams in his area. He has played for teams such as the San Jose Earthquakes Academy, San Diego State in the Pacific 12, and the University of San Francisco in the West Coast Conference. Jamal graduated from Berkeley High in 2015 and since then, he has earned three degrees, including an A.A from City College of San Francisco, a Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of San Francisco, and a Master’s in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University. Currently, he works in education and engages in community work during his spare time. Read below to learn more about Jamal.

Jamal Bernardez


What is OXO to you?

When I initially came up with the idea of OXO, I truly had one objective in mind. IMPACT MY COMMUNITY in a way that I felt like was me. For me, OXO is the story of my life. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have a diverse range of good and bad experiences.  From failed suicide attempts to playing D1 soccer in college, experiences like these help me craft a unique identity. An identity I am very proud of. 

Growing up in two different cities also helped fuel the creation of the OXO a lot as well. Jumping from Vallejo schools to Berkeley schools as well as playing soccer in Vallejo and Berkeley, the access to resources was very different.  This was something that always frustrate me, that spending on where you lived, how you presented, or who you were could have effects on the access you have to resources. With my mom moving me from Vallejo to Berkeley, to a place where there were more resources, this built up guilt inside me, which fueled a passion to do what I could to give back to help people get equal access to the resources they deserve. 

I was also fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by nothing but community. My grandmother ran a daycare, dad was a soccer coach, constantly went to church, and mom worked at the schools I went to.  Because of these settings, I’ve been fortunate enough to see what the power of community is, which also helped craft who I am today. 

Most importantly I wanted others, especially those who look like me or people who come from places like me to know that you don’t have to conform to societal ideas and pressure that are placed on us. If you focus on being yourself and commit to yourself, you can accomplish a lot and have a big impact. An to take everything you learn and share it with more people from the community, not only developing yourself but the community as well.

For me that’s what OXO is, it’s my story. 

What does it mean to empower yourself?

Empowerment is the act of taking control or action in a given situation. It involves giving yourself the power to handle whatever challenges you’re facing, and recognizing your own strengths and capabilities. Empowerment can manifest in many different ways. In my own life, I experienced a powerful example of empowerment when I looked in the mirror and made a promise to myself. I promised that I would never let my mental health deteriorate to the point where I couldn’t handle it, and that I would seek help and support from my community before it was too late.

What does it mean to cultivate yourself?

Cultivation is my favorite part of the process of originality. To me, cultivation means intentionally growing oneself, which is a consistent process throughout life. We are never done building skills and growing until we depart this earth. Whether it’s going to the gym, seeking counseling, spending time alone, or with loved ones, this dedicated time is crucial for personal growth.

What does it mean to Inspire Others?

Inspiring others means motivating, pushing, and encouraging them to embark on their own self-development journey. It’s a time to showcase the hard work we have put in and to shine. There are various ways to inspire people, but I believe that sharing stories and finding similarities in them, and then sharing how we overcame those challenges can be a powerful approach. Additionally, modeling what we say is equally important. When our words match our actions, it creates a genuine inspiration for others.

How does ECI lead one to Originality and Opportunity?

ECI leads one to Originality by making sure that one knows themselves. Change can’t happen unless we see the need for change or ownership. Through the process of Empowerment, one is doing just that. Then by Cultivating, one is working on oneself,  getting a better understanding of who they are, their strength, and weaknesses. By taking the time to do this, and having an understanding of oneself, we can put ourselves in the right positions to thrive and inspire others. When inspiring others we can open doors and separate ourselves from the crowd when opportunities arise. 

How do our communities benefit from this?

Communities benefit greatly from the process of allowing original ideas to spread throughout them. When individuals choose to be themselves and showcase their originality, they bring their unique experiences and identities to the table. This allows communities to have a diverse range of ideas that can help them tackle problems in innovative ways. Furthermore, sharing knowledge and wisdom can help communities grow and develop. Sometimes, we must step out of our comfort zones and move into a new community to pursue new opportunities. By experiencing a different community and learning from new opportunities, we can share our newfound knowledge with our people back home, thereby better preparing them for success.

How have you displayed this in your own life?

I have shown these ideas and beliefs multiple times in my life. But the one that I am most proud of is my battle with mental health. There was a point in time when I felt I was no longer needed or wanted on this earth. That I was a hindrance to my people and my community. Leading to an attempt to take my own life in middle school. When failed, I talked to my mom about it and she went to get me help. From there I worked with councilors from my school who took the time to sit with me and help me through this battle. Through this battle, I made a promise to myself that I would never let myself get that low again, and that before I did, I’d seek help. From there, I have gone on to achieve things I at one point thought would never happen to someone like me. Because of this I feel the need to pay it forward, since I feel like I could never pay back the people who helped me. Lending my knowledge to my community helping people with their battles and helping them grow.