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Graduation Hat Throw


  • Identify the most at risk of dropping out early in the school year, with the help of their teachers and their counselors

  • Provide one on one academic mentoring for each student, at least 3 hours per week, in coordination with teachers and administrators

  • Ensure individual attention and help for whatever specific problems have been preventing motivation and accomplishment (finances, health, language, family dysfunction, etc.)

  • Provide motivational seminars led by persons with backgrounds like their own who have managed to achieve success nonetheless.

  • Provide each school with staff necessary to coordinate, evaluate, improve and expand the program


Oakland Serves: Helping To Solve The Problem Of Dropping Out

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Oakland Serves is the name of a nonprofit (501c3) organization formed a few years ago by a few retired academics, business people, and government employees with a strong commitment to the City of Oakland and history of living and volunteering in the city.   We were dismayed by the high number of students who failed, every year, to graduate with their classmates (on average about 600).  What happened?  Where did they go?  What happened to them?  And what could we do to make a difference?  


Of course we found many good programs, some really impressive. But we found none that focused exclusively on students still in school whose teachers and counselors could identify as very likely to drop out soon. Other programs often welcomed them, but sometimes just being surrounded by others who are doing better makes change hard.  We did more research and found the strong correlations between hard lives and dropping out (trauma, poverty, racism, ill health, addiction)  and also those between dropping out and doing worse, so much worse than those with high school diploma in hand.  And thus was born our mission and our vision.  Join us and learn more.

What Oakland Serves proposes:  a special BRIDGE TO GRADUATION exclusively for students known to be on the edge of dropping out.   See Figures 1 and 2.

How Serious the Problem Is

  • Oakland’s graduation rate hovers around 65%, year after year, as compared to 80% and higher completion rates for the nation, the State of California, and even for Alameda County as a whole.  Oakland is the outlier.

  • The problem is most severe for African-American and Latino students. 

  • Dropping out is not the answer. Their lives will get worse, not better.  Finding good paying jobs is all but impossible without a diploma or a GED.  Studies show 80% are likely to get in trouble with the law within a few years of dropping out. 

  • When students drop out, the community pays.  Paying for welfare services and criminal penalization far exceeds the costs of keeping kids in school.

  • Other efforts help many but not enough of the potential drop outs.  Programs to improve early childhood education, help foster kids,  target African American and Latino students, and find funding  for students who are ready for college but unable to pay the costs are doing great work, but are not focused exclusively on these kids and their current needs.


How To Build The Bridge To Graduation

Help Us Bridge The Gap 

This is an ambitious program.  But we believe a program like this is the only way we can bridge the gap between early pre-school enrollment and high school graduation for all, the only way to send all our students on to the further education (be it a one year trade certificate or a Ph.D.) that everyone now needs for satisfying careers and lifetimes of civic responsibility. 


Building A Bridge will save more money than it costs.  It will save lives.  It could save our city. Please contribute what you can. 

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