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Developing Our Program: Exciting News for the New Year

THE GRADUATION ADVOCATE A publication of Oakland Serves Vol. 1 Issue 2

Welcome to the second issue of The Graduation Advocate, a newsletter for old and new friends of Oakland Serves. We are an organization working to increase the graduation rate in Oakland public schools by seeking District-wide adoption of a special program for those identified as most at risk of dropping out. In this newsletter we will publish information about the dropout problem and the progress of Oakland Serves. We will report on new studies and events relevant to our work. We will welcome contributions and hope you will become a Graduation Advocate. Please remember the dropout rates for Oakland Unified School District vs the County of Alameda and the State of California, as in the following graph. Notice the increase in recent years to about 24%. That is very nearly 1 out of every 4 students in the OUSD!

What is Oakland Serves?

Oakland Serves is a volunteer organization working to help the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) decrease the dropout rate in Oakland public high schools. Mission: We work for the adoption of a program by OUSD that will identify high school students who are most at risk of dropping out and provide them with weekly one-on-one academic mentoring, paid internships in the community, the possibility of establishing a college trust fund, a program of motivational speakers, and additional financial aid where most needed. Vision: We envision a world where every high school student graduates from high school and is well prepared for their next phase in life. Values: We strive to include the voices of the community we serve. The needs of the student are always considered first. We respect and value diversity.

Developing Our Program: Exciting News for the New Year Oakland Serves has worked out a brand new arrangement with Be A Mentor, the organization we partner with to find and place mentors. From now on, anyone signing up with us will have the option to go to work as an Oakland Serves mentor for a high risk student in Oakland just soon as cleared and trained by B.A.M. This cannot be in our pilot program until that is adopted by one of our high schools, but it can be with a young person in Oakland who needs you now. Be A Mentor will also help Oakland Serves set up special events and outings for our mentor-mentee matches (see Building our Speakers Program). By agreeing to mentor a young person in B.A.M.’s existing mentor placement program, you will also be helping us build the track record Oakland high school leaders have been asking to see before adopting our pilot, as well as improving our chances for successful fund raising, work placements, and event development. Interested? Then tell Be A Mentor,, that you are ready to get going now. For questions phone them at (510) 342-7171 or write As soon as you have completed your background check and a free training, they will place you with a mentee. Please also pass the word along to others you know who would be interested. Thanks!

A New Graph To Consider

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, December 2006 to December 2016 Prepared by Avi Sen, January 2017.

Fighting Drop Out: Stories from Our Community London Wright, a member of the Oakland Serves Team, is a Deacon and the Minister of Training at the Allen Temple Baptist Church, and a retired Probation Counselor. He has been working with young inner city youth for 32 years in the Boys’ Rites of Passage program. These young men meet with him at the church once a month, as a group, and get the kind of personal attention that keeps them involved in school and in pursuit of their dreams. Recent speakers have talked about business, religion, family dynamics, and how to get into college. Police officers come to talk about the relationship between youth and police. Academic speakers offer help with college applications. Others tell about resources for help with other problems they may be having. Every speaker sets up a dialogue, and the young men enter actively in the discussion. They also take field trips for fun and learning. A recent favorite was a wall climbing trip. They always attend the annual Black Expo at the Oakland Convention Center. They have visited the Mormon Temple’s genealogy files to discover their heritage. What does London advise others who want to help Oakland’s students in need? “Treat all youth as individuals and don’t lump them together – different kids have different problems.” And he says he himself has a particular passion for this work: “Long ago, I lost a 15 year old brother out there in those streets.” Do you have a story for us about helping Oakland youth stay in school? Send it in to


Become a Graduation Advocate:

1.Be an O.S. Advocate: take an interest and spread the word to others. 2. Contributing Advocate: provide donor contacts, mention us in your own newsletter, give us an item for this newsletter or for the Library, provide donor contacts, write a check. Donations to Oakland Serves are now tax deductible. You may send checks (or advocate that others do so) to Oakland Serves, P. O. Box 19317, Oakland CA, 94619. Online donations by Credit Card or Paypal is also available on ourwebsite. Until it is fully funded, at least 80 percent of all donations received will be set aside for students in our pilot program. 3. Mentor Advocate: Get a background clearance and sign on to mentor. 4.Team Advocate: Do you have relevant professional experience and experience working with youth from diverse backgrounds? Are you yourself a member of an underrepresented group? Then be a Team Advocate. Work with other members of the Oakland Serves Team, helping with recruitment, website maintenance, newsletter editing, general publicity, legal questions, fundraising, accounting, and/or visits to supporters. Whichever you choose (and you can choose as many as you wish) , write and tell us about yourself. Why does this appeal to you and what would you would like to do? If you choose the Team, how much time might you contribute?


Building Our Speakers Program Now that we will be working with Be A Mentor to develop our speakers program for youths at risk of dropping out (see Developing Our Program box), we are eager to recruit more volunteers willing and able to participate. Have you come up the hard way yourself and reached a level of career accomplishment you are proud of? Have you had some experience talking to and relating to young people in need of role models? If so, please let us know. This would not require a great deal of your time: We will work with you and B.A.M. to set a convenient time and place. If this is not for you, can you pass the word along to someone you know who would be good at this and like to do it? Let us hear from you—or your contact – by emailing Tell us your experience and how you would like to be answered (email or phone).

January Meetings: OUSD School Board: Dates: Wednesday, January 25 Meeting: Board of Education - Regular Meeting Time: 4:00 PM-10:00 PM Location: City Council Chambers, City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612 Free parking at garage on 16th Street between Clay and San Pablo. Bring the parking token to City Hall for validation. Northern Alameda Consortium for Adult Education: Dates: January 27, 2017 and March 24, 2017 Time: Usually 3:00 PM Location: Peralta College District Office 333 E 8th Street Oakland, CA 94606 Agendas posted online 72 hours prior to meeting.


Contributions to Newsletter We welcome contributions of about 150 -200 words. Can you tell our readers about a related program that you belong to or lead? Do you have a good tale of a turnaround that you witnessed or lived through? Have you come across an interesting new article or new data focusing on dropouts? Is there something new and relevant going on in the Oakland high school you know best? Send it in to!



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