You Can Make A Difference

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Mentors are volunteers who help with school work, encourage students to identify their interests, listen carefully, talk about opportunities, and consult with coordinators about possible help for serious problems. They help build the student’s confidence and motivation to graduate and to pursue an appropriate future in college and/or career. They share their own experiences, if these are likely to be relevant and encouraging. They never forget to listen.

What Does It Take To Be A Mentor?


The Basics:  Mentors have time available, follow the guidelines,  and are dependable.  They meet a volunteer coordinator for an interview, get their background clearances, take a two-hour training, send in a photo for a badge, show up for an orientation at the school prior to beginning.  Then they show up every week on the same day for at least 90 minutes to meet with their student. At the end of each session, they submit a brief Weekly Mentor Report to Oakland Serves.

An Oakland Serves Mentor Will...

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Get a background clearance from our partner, Be A Mentor. This includes a TB test (or certificate) and fingerprinting.  It may take a few days or a few weeks so should be begun as soon as possible. Your health insurance will normally cover your TB test and we will gladly help locate a fingerprinting location near you. Any costs are reimbursed.

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Attend a free mentor training.  Trainings are held regularly once or twice a month and you will be invited to attend the meeting which will be on line and include slides and role playing

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Meet and work with the same student every week, 3 hours per week, for seven to eight months during the school year, giving substantive help with homework.

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Be a positive role model, develop a relationship of trust and respect with your student, and provide counseling as well as academic support.

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Report regularly to the Volunteer Coordinator and participate, to the extent possible, in workshops and other planned events for mentors and students.

Mentor A Student

Oakland Serves continues to be committed to the success of high school students amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic. We have created a system that permits Oakland Serves mentoring to continue online and we are developing protocols to help mentors, students, and teachers cope with returning to the classroom while COVID-19 and its variants persist.

Fill out an Expression of Interest form below by clicking "Apply Now" and submit it.

Respond to an online interview with an Oakland Serves staff member.

Interested in mentoring for Oakland Serves?

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The Right Approach: Mentors are empathetic and non-judgmental: They are able to listen, learn, and sometimes change their own beliefs and behavior as they learn more about the circumstances keeping mentees from doing their best. They have patience and the ability to keep their cool as they gradually inspire trust.

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The Brain Power: Mentors are knowledgeable: They are well educated and able to help high school students get their homework done in at least one of the subjects required for graduation: English, math, and science.  Some college level education is good, but not required.

The Motive: Not all motives are the same. Some want to do something really worthwhile and help make the world a better place.  Some want to get valuable experience and build their resume.  Some are looking for internships.  All honorable motives are fine.

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The Relationship with the School: Mentors understand that teachers and administrators are often working in difficult circumstances in Oakland’s schools and that our success depends on helping them by helping their most at-risk students do their homework. (It’s not up to us to tell them how to do their jobs!)  This means mentors are cooperative and flexible, and get in touch as need be.

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The Reports:  Each mentor submits a brief Weekly Mentor Report to Oakland Serves: date, time spent with student, what was accomplished, any other important details.

Interested in mentoring for Oakland Serves?

Want To Know More About How We Find, Prepare and

Place The Volunteer Mentors? Read On...

Finding Mentors

All members of the Oakland Serves Team seek to interest others in our program by talking about it, putting up recruitment posters and seeking new supporters. 

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Meet the Oakland Serves Team


Sujata is an Outreach Consultant. She helps with all aspects of mentor recruitment: interviews, profiles, seeking business support such as arranging released time for mentors and helping to publlicize the work of Oakland Serves. She handles outreach to social media. She seeks new ways to secure individual donations to our work and helps process thanks you's for all donations.

Ina is a Member of the Board. She is the Managing Editor for our  Newsletter, The Graduation Advocate and the Oakland Serves website, including the Expression of Interest form and Donations page. She is a coordinator in our partnership with Be A Mentor and helps would-be mentors to secure their background clearances. 

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Maya is a Member of the Board. She arranges and conducts interviews and develops mentor profiles covering past experience with youth, subjects preferred for tutoring, hours of availability during class times, etc. The applicant reviews and approves/corrects the profiles.

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Sharon is Chair of the Board. She attends OUSD meetings and monitors school district developments relevant to our work. She holds trainings for mentors regularly on line. She assists with donation collection, deposit and official thank you's .

Kay is Executive Director. She arranges agendas for board and staff meetings and follows up on their decisions. She meets with school administrators to present profiles and learn how exactly each school plans to proceed with placements. 

Isabel is an Outreach Consultant. Her special tasks are to reach out to current and past mentors to secure commitments for future mentoring, to review, answer, and summarize mentors' reports, to serve as point person for contacting school administrators and teachers as necessary, and to find foundations that may help, then create, submit and follow up on applications for funding.


Mentors may attend the online monthly online open Board meeting; time is always provided for them to discuss what works and how things are going.

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Mary is a Member of the Board and serves as Treasurer. She meets all reporting requirements of the IRS and the State of California, maintains ongoing records of all donations, helps formulate budgets for each fiscal year, and takes part in ensuring thank you's go to all donors. She also works on finding and contacting other agencies doing mentoring on line .

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Ingrid is Secretary and Member of the Board as well as a mentor to Oakland Serves mentees. 

Placing Mentors In The Schools

The normal procedure is:

The school reviews the profiles, decides on possible matches (mentors and mentees) and secures student and family consent to participation in the program.

The school holds the orientation meeting one or two weeks before mentoring is set to begin, and provides useful information (school calendar, whom to contact and when, and what they expect from the mentors (each school has its own areas of emphasis and we honor that).  Special briefings are provided by Oakland Serves for mentors whose work does not allow them to attend orientation.

Mentoring begins one to two weeks after orientation, and continues throughout the rest of the school year (holidays excepted).

Once mentoring begins, and mentors have begun submitting Weekly Mentor Reports, Oakland Serves interacts with administrators to solve any problems.

There is absolutely no charge to the school for what we do.

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Interested in mentoring for Oakland Serves?

Interested in helping but cannot commit to the time requirements?