The Oakland Promise
THE OAKLAND PROMISE (working title)
What happens when an entire city decides to prioritize college attendance and graduation for all of its public school students? We are documenting the multi-faceted Oakland Promise education initiative to see if its "cradle to career" combination of support for new babies and their parents, college-readiness programs from Kindergarten through high school, and significant college scholarship and one-on-one mentoring support can break through some long-standing challenges: today, only one in ten Oakland public school students is graduating from college within five years of high school graduation.
Launched in 2016 by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and a wide range of elected and community leaders including from the Oakland School Board and City Council, the Oakland Promise is meant to fill in the gaps for students whose families do not have the financial resources or first-hand experience of the college-application process, and over time exponentially increase the number of college graduates living and thriving in Oakland.
Following several youth and families over time, we will examine if this comprehensive, community-based approach makes the difference intended for students' and their families' lives. The context is a city in flux with gentrification pushing out many long-term residents, the federal government creating uncertainty and fear for Oakland's large undocumented immigrant community, and a school system with severe budget challenges. Can an initiative such as this thrive as political challenges and other priorities compete for the city's attention?