Oakland Serves is ready for School Start on Aug 8!
Planning for Fall 2022 Part 2: Increasing Student Engagement
In the May newsletter, we talked about expanding our program's outreach to additional schools. We hope to serve 50% more mentees this year. In this issue, we talk about some exciting changes to our student interaction plan.
From the very beginning, Oakland Serves took on the challenge of providing additional support to students at risk of dropping out. These are students who are likely to have already started to disengage from school for many different reasons and who lack motivation to do what is needed to be successful academically. We are proud of the fact that most of the students, through active communication with our mentors, continue through to the end of each school year despite being confronted with other challenging issues in their lives.
However, our data show that there were opportunities to increase engagement of our “reluctant learners.” This year we are digging in deeper to increase the potential success of our mentees in three ways: (1) increasing mentee commitment at the start of our program through active goal setting, (2) providing academic incentives for staying engaged, and (3) more quickly identifying trends in missed sessions to proactively bring them back to the program when they get distracted. We believe that by working with the mentors, teachers, and parents, we can provide even more.
Happy to be returning to Oakland High School!
Sharon Rose and June Pangelinan have been sharing our new plans to engage students with Oakland High School (OHS) administrators and they are eager to support the new initiatives. OHS has a multi-pronged student support system and we are happy to integrate our 1:1 in-school mentoring program into their many services. Last year, OHS personnel helped match our mentors with students in need of academic support, as identified by their teachers, as well as students who have sought help independently. Besides in-class mentoring, OHS has a "Wellness Center" on-site in which after-school mentoring takes place. GO WILDCATS!
3.5 Years of Oakland Serves Highlights
Oakland Serves began its mentor services in the Spring of 2018. As we are about to begin a new school year, we took a look back at some of our achievements from the first 3.5 years:
Since Spring of 2018, we have paired 64 mentees (9th to 12th graders) with mentors.
About 80% of the mentees stay in our program through the end of the school year.
We have collaborated with three Oakland high schools: Skyline High School, McClymonds High School, and Oakland High School, and adapted to the unique needs and processes required at each school.
From Spring 2020 to Spring 2021, we continued to support mentees virtually through the difficult challenge of online classes and the resultant hurdles to virtual learning.
50% of our mentors return and continue mentoring for another year.
We are proud of the fact that several of our mentors continued to follow their mentees beyond the school year, providing encouragement and sometimes critical support as the mentees navigate their young adult years.
Donations are critical to the success of Oakland Serves
Oakland Serves is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization – all donations are fully tax-deductible. Without your help, we cannot run our 1:1 in-school mentoring program to can provide the academic success support and confidence to help students most in need of support to complete high school and achieve a graduation diploma. For each student we mentor, Oakland Serves spends at least $600 per year -- and this is with a mostly volunteer staff (and all mentors are volunteers). This is a small cost to get a student over the line to the next year of school and then to graduation. Consider that the school loses $79/day of state funds when a student doesn’t come to school, hurting the school programs and the rest of the students. Our Fall 2022 new initiatives will require even more attention from our staff and volunteers.
There are many ways to help our bottom line:
Donate online: Consider a donation this month of $25, $50, $100, or $250 to get us ready for school start on August 8!
Donate by check: You may send checks to Oakland Serves, P. O. Box 19317, Oakland CA, 94619. We also make it easy to use online donations by credit card on our website.
Employer Matching Gifts: Does your company provide matching funds for donations to non-profits? Check our website for a list of Bay Area companies that can double your one-time, quarterly, or annual donation.
Do you have a donor-advised fund? Consider recommending us for funding.
The rewards of mentoring. Join us - come alone or in pairs!
Our first mentor training session occurred on July 16th. Sign-up ahead of our August 6th and August 20th training sessions! Mentoring is not always easy but helping students overcome challenges, and their response to your support makes it rewarding. 50% of our mentors have decided they want to do it again this Fall. We are particularly interested in mentors that can go into a classroom once a week or meet with students after class. Contact us directly or check us out on Volunteer Match.
How about volunteering with a friend? Sign up and train together! Share your experiences. We will try to accommodate matching with students who can meet at the same time each week or take the same classes (no guarantees!).
Here’s what some of our mentors reported about their sessions last year:
“Helped plan and organize a personal essay on racism”
“Had to come up with an idea for a TV miniseries and name all the characters and the plot. It was a fun project to start with. At the end …she stood up and said 'thank you, I feel like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders.' "
“Worked on an opinion assignment about wearing masks in school. Evaluating the sources for bias, picking a reliable expert.”
“For most of our meeting, we talked about strategies for getting motivated to work on assignments and put together a list of the top assignments she needs to complete.”
“The past several meetings she has seemed to feel good about the material I presented to her, and she said for once she actually felt confident in her understanding of Algebra.”
Social media volunteer wanted
Seeking volunteer to help us build content and presence to increase our ability to support Oakland students. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Not a social media pro but still want to help Oakland Serves? Talk to us!
Tell others about Oakland Serves!
If you have donated to Oakland Serves (or even if you can’t), mention us on your social media or link to our Facebook page, or invite others to join. Sign up for our newsletter and forward it to a friend. Enjoyed your mentoring experience with us? Let others know!
We have other volunteer opportunities outside the classroom. If you are interested in contributing some time to our program in other ways, please contact us at email@example.com.
Content Editor: Sue Wollowitz & Sharon Rose Managing Editor: Ina Zhang
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