A Promising Start in the Bay Area

Posted by Maica Pichler on January 28, 2016 at 11:40 AM

Today, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Oakland Superintendent Antwan Wilson, were joined by dignitaries from across California and the country to launch one of the most ambitious and comprehensive cradle-to-career initiatives in the nation. The Oakland Promise is a cross-sector collaborative initiative designed to ensure that all Oakland students graduate high school with the expectations, resources, and skills to complete college and be successful in a career of their choice. One of the reasons that U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, University of California President Janet Napolitano, and our own President, Morley Winograd, attended the announcement is the scope and ambition of the Oakland Promise.

The Oakland Promise combines best practices from across the country in an expansive way to ensure that all Oakland students and families are supported on their way from birth through college, launching into a successful career. Babies born into poverty in Oakland will have a college savings account of $500 opened in their names -- setting an expectation for college from birth. The Oakland Promise will then establish a universal college savings program for kindergartners in Oakland Public schools. Finally, in partnership with East Bay College Fund (EBCF), every eligible Oakland student will receive a college scholarship ranging from $1,000 to $16,000. Scholarships will be phased in by school, with a goal of tripling the number of Oakland Unified high school graduates who complete college.

Beyond money, the Oakland Promise offers a continuous range of support services to students in, and graduates of, Oakland Public Schools. Through Future Centers, High Schools will offer services to their students designed to help them prepare for college and make sure they have the support they need to enroll in the college of their choice. And once they are accepted, the East Bay College Fund’s programs and agreements with over 22 participating colleges ensure the student will have access to counseling, mentoring, and peer group support services to help them to persist through the college years and earn a diploma. The plan is based on a model that has enabled 80% of college students supported by the EPCF to date to graduate from college.

But probably the most impressive part of the Oakland Promise is the fact that this is truly a community effort with hundreds of organizations and individuals already signed on as partners and champions. As the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Tomiquia Moss, told her Director of Education, David Silver, “this initiative must touch every part of our community, not just its students, families and educators. We need it to change the culture of our community so that everyone is committed to the success of our children.”

That is what Promise programs are uniquely capable of doing. CFCT is proud to be present at the birth of the Oakland Promise and wishes everyone involved in it the best of success in making their vision come true.

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The Campaign for Free College Tuition is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in the State of Washington in 2014 to educate parents, students, the higher education community, policy makers and taxpayers about efforts needed to fundamentally reform our nation’s system for financing higher education. This website and CFCT’s educational outreach activities are made possible through generous individual and foundation support.