What happens when an entire city prioritizes college completion for every public school student? We are documenting the multi-faceted Oakland Promise education initiative to see if its "cradle to career" combination of supports for students 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, the Oakland Promise is meant to fill in the gaps for low-income and first generation students, and over time exponentially increase the number of college graduates living and thriving in Oakland.
We are documenting this comprehensive, community-based approach over time to see if it makes the difference intended for students and their families. The context is a city in flux with gentrification pushing out long-term residents and rendering others homeless, the federal government creating uncertainty and fear for its 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?