News + Ideas

Educate78 Launches in Oakland

I am excited to introduce Educate78, an Oakland-based not-for-profit spin off from NewSchools Venture Fund.

We chose the name “Educate78” because the city of Oakland is 78 square miles, and our mission is to ensure that every student, in every neighborhood of Oakland, has access to world-class public schools. We will do this through informed giving and strategic initiatives.

educate78

The time is right to focus on Oakland. The city’s robust and vibrant community of educators, innovators and social entrepreneurs is growing. We have an inspiring new leader in OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson, who shares our vision of putting results before ideology in service of all students. Voters have elected school board members who are open to change. We have great partners to collaborate with, like GO Public Schools, Seneca Family of Agencies, Lighthouse Community Charter School, and Youth Uprising. And we are honored to have supporters such as the Schwab Charitable Fund, Koshland Family Foundation, Irene S. Scully Family Foundation and Rogers Family Foundation.

The education environment in Oakland brings many challenges. Oakland ranked 147th of 149 among California school districts in terms of performance of low-income students, and has one of the largest achievement gaps statewide. But we see a unique opportunity here to make a real difference for students and do so in a sustainable way, by using a community-based approach. We may even provide a roadmap for similar efforts in other cities.

Our work will be driven by the needs of Oakland families, open to diverse perspectives, and characterized by the creativity that stems from collaboration. The challenges facing Oakland students and schools are complex, numerous and intractable; to solve them, we cannot be hampered by tired politics and old dividing lines.

Educate78 is about getting results for Oakland students – all of them – and we believe that the community of excellent public schools in Oakland needs to include both charter and district-run options. Accordingly, we will provide resources to replicate and expand high-performing charter schools, as a proven strategy for creating great choices for families. And, we will also invest to extend what’s working in district-run schools, and help mend what’s not working in the system, such as enrollment and Special Education.

Educate78 also seeks to develop and empower Oakland teachers and parents. We will support a survey of Oakland teachers to elevate their voices and leverage their expertise to find new ways to make Oakland a city where the best teachers want to work. We believe impactful and sustainable change must be directed by the community, so we are backing organizations that provide data to inform better local decision-making about schools, and that help develop family leadership within schools. And in order to enable families to choose schools that are the best fit for their children, we have joined a diverse coalition that includes OUSD, community organizations, and local parents to improve the enrollment process.

Uniting people and bringing different perspectives together is not always the easiest way to get things done, but we are guided by the African Proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

I am thrilled that Anne Soto and Rachel Garcia James will be part of the founding Educate78 team. Every day, we are inspired by the determination, hard work and passion of Oakland students, educators and community members. We feel privileged and are energized by the opportunity to make real change for the families of Oakland. Collectively, we are forging a new path for public education in Oakland, and we invite you to join us.

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