WE CAN DO IT WITH YOUR HELP
We are pleased to tell you that Oakland Serves is getting ready to go back to work, helping high school students who have been identified by their teachers and counselors as being on the edge of dropping out. We will not be stopped by the coronavirus, and we will adapt to the new reality.
The students we help are those who have not been able to do the work needed to graduate with their peers. They may be blocked by language, by inadequate resources at home, by systemic racism in school and elsewhere, by low self-esteem, or all of the above, or something else. We come to them with open minds, open hearts, and a practical solution: let’s get that homework done. In the past two and a half years we have been able to offer mentees one-on-one help, sometimes in the classroom and sometimes out, for up to 3 hours a week, always on the same day of the week at the same time, and this has helped most to improve their abilities and their grades. For the past two and a half years we have brought at least ten well trained and cleared mentors to McClymonds each semester, and last fall we began working with another ten students at Oakland High. Our goal was and is to keep growing – eventually establishing ourselves as a community-based program with full time management and staff – in order to reach many more of the students in Oakland’s public high schools who are clearly at risk of dropping out (on average, 600 students per year).
This year the coronavirus brought our program to a halt, but now we are preparing to begin again. Despite the pandemic, and despite the uncertainty as to how and when schools will open again, we are forging ahead. Whatever happens, in school or online, we will be ready to help. We have brought in 14 new applicants for mentoring and gained expressions of interest from 12 past mentors who want to return. Our new applicants and most of those returning are familiar with working on Zoom and other online venues and we are adapting our training procedures to reflect that ability – and that necessity. To make sure we will be up to the task, we are holding regular Zoom meetings ourselves and between meetings our six work groups have been making progress on important tasks and reporting back to the rest of us.
One of our tasks is to keep covering our monthly budget. The long shutdown of normal life has not improved our finances, a plight we share with so many. We have been relying on volunteers and individual donations to cover three part time staff members (each working only 25 hours per month) and the bank account definitely needs replenishment for us to continue this coming school year and prepare for the next. We will continue to seek help from foundations, but what we need now are immediate donations, large and small, one time or recurring, from dependable sources. We hope you will be willing to help us.
Please go to Donation page, or send a check to Oakland Serves, P.O Box 19317, Laurel Post Office, 3620 High Street, Oakland, Ca., 94619. Please ask others to help. If you are uncomfortable doing that, please ask them to let you know the names (and emails) of other folks they know who are involved in similar giving so we may reach out to them. Maybe you yourself know some individuals or groups who could be asked to help. It may be easier to ask family and friends to give you leads to other persons who would probably help (but maybe they will surprise you with their own generosity once you explain what Oakland Serves is doing).
This is an organization you and others can feel good about supporting. Our mentors are volunteers and so are most of us – we use the money to pay three staff members who need more hours than we can now afford, to buy minimal office supplies, to provide our mentors with t shirts and badges, and to pay insurance costs. What we are doing is honorable: we are fighting the effects of the virus on education and helping our mentees rise above the social ills that have brought them down. Once you get to know them, the students we work with are good kids, smart kids, kids capable of doing a whole lot better. But they are not lucky kids and they do need the kind of help we can give. Please help and please ask others to do the same. We need to raise enough to meet present upcoming needs and start working on preparations for 2021-22 when our plans are to double the number of mentors we offer and the number of students we serve in at least four schools.
Right now, what we need is $10,000 to be sure of meeting present and upcoming needs.
How much can you give or raise from others? Please go to our Donation page or send a check to Oakland Serves, P.O Box 19317, Laurel Post Office, 3620 High Street, Oakland, Ca., 94619.
Don’t hesitate to write us if you have questions.
Thank you very much.