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The Oakland REACH Donor Newsletter, August 2020


I write to you as the Executive Director of The Oakland REACH, but I’m also the parent of a senior who is trying to get into college. During the first two weeks of school, she has had 50 minutes a day of instruction. That is shameful. There are other seniors in the Bay Area who are receiving live instruction all day long. We have had dreams for her to go to college since she was born and this is how her senior year starts. How is she supposed to compete when this is what her 9am-3pm looks like? 

I’m not the only Oakland parent who is mad, frustrated, and concerned. More than 50% of our parents say they are worried about learning loss this fall, and are not happy with the instruction their children are receiving. And 96% say they need our Citywide Virtual Family Hub to continue this fall to help their families keep up. 

We are currently surveying our parents to make sure our Phase 2 programming and our advocacy is focused on fighting for a quality 9am-3pm this fall. And we have a dozen cities from coast to coast reaching out to us to learn how to replicate the Hub and its success. 

Please check out this video I shared with our families— and stay tuned for more to come on the Hub Phase 2. 

Thank you, 

The Hub Phase 2: What Parents Want

Before COVID19, less than 30% of Black and Brown Oakland public school students were reading on grade level. And now, as a global pandemic and recession adds to the crisis we were already facing, our kids are barely getting any instruction at all. And what they are being offered is far from the rigorous and quality instruction they need. 

Our children deserve our best. That’s what we offered them when we launched our City-Wide Virtual Family Hub. Over the summer, our Hub ran 5 days a week for 5 weeks and offered 75 hours of quality, rigorous instruction for over 200 students. Our goal is to double the number of students the Hub serves for Phase 2 to 400.  

To this end, Phase 2 of the Hub will be laser-focused on five objectives:
  1. Offering Quality Instruction
  2. Mitigating Learning Loss/Accelerating Learning
  3. Supporting Parents and Caregivers
  4. Providing Technical Support and Training for Families
  5. Supporting the Whole Child
We’re kicking off Phase 2 by surveying our families to gather information about the type of academic programming they want for their children’s education. Whether it’s 1:1 and small group tutoring, or a literacy focused curriculum centered in the African-American experience, our families are experts on what their children need.

We will also continue to offer parents their own personal family liaison to help them navigate distance learning, and our Family Sustainability Center (FSC), providing both academic and socio-economic resources and workshops for families to not just be surviving the pandemic, but thriving. 
We will demand a high quality 9am-3pm for our students every step of the way.

No matter the obstacles, we will move forward hand-in-hand with families through this academic year. But we can’t do any of this without your support. 

Since COVID19 started, over 420 individual donors have donated more than $140,000 to support our efforts to help our families. Will you join them? 
Our Team is Growing: Meet Michael DeSousa
We are excited to share that Michael DeSousa is joining the Oakland REACH as Managing Director. Michael has been working in Bay Area schools for the past 20 years as a teacher, school leader, researcher, leadership coach, and advocate. He is the father of two children who attend Oakland public schools and the son of Azorean immigrants who immigrated to the Bay Area in 1963.

Over the past two years, Michael has served as the Director of School and Community Leadership at Educate78, a non-profit organization committed to improving educational opportunities for all Oakland youth. While at Educate78, Michael worked closely with district and charter public schools to develop leaders and design schools that honor the brilliance of our children. Over the past year, Michael also served as a key partner in our Literacy for All Campaign and City-wide Virtual Hub.

This past year, Michael was instrumental in creating the Literacy for All Campaign and building the Coalition. This spring and summer, his leadership and expertise were essential to the design and operation of our City-wide Virtual Hub. Many of us already considered Michael a member of our team – now we make it official as we look ahead to a crucial time for Oakland families.

Micshell fought for so many children!
Let's get her child over the finish line.

Since our sister Micshell passed away at the end of June, we have been working to raise money for her family via GoFundMe. The Oakland REACH is committed to honoring Micshell’s memory by supporting her sons, Lejon and Tyran. Her youngest son, Tyran, is a middle school student, and Micshell’s dream for him is to graduate from college. This was why she did this work and gave her all. We must make sure this young man gets to the finish line.

We are only $400 away from reaching $10,000 raised. If you can, please add your support before we close this fund at the end of the month:
The Oakland REACH In the News

We are unstoppable! Check out the continued local and national coverage of our Hub - including an interview on NPR’s Here & Now, which is aired on 450 stations and reaches 4.5 million weekly listeners!

How an Oakland Parent Advocate Group Is Making Distance Learning Possible This Summer

Digital Divide: Making the Connection in Schools

Parents worried about the fall plan 'learning pods' and micro-schools

NBC Bay Area
Oakland Nonprofit Helps Underserved Families Navigate Distance Learning

WBUR’s Here & Now
The Cost Of Navigating The Educational Crisis Through Pandemic Pods

BBC News
Coronavirus: How pandemic pods and zutors are changing home-schooling

Brindan ayuda sin costo a familias para que sus hijos sigan aprendiendo de forma virtual

Shadow schools? Class is in session — at the YMCA and roller rink

Chaos Commonplace on Day One of New School Year in Oakland

Virtual learning hub in Oakland helps underserved students during distance learning

VICE News Tonight
August 20, 2020. (Note: Start at 20:13)

The Oaklandside
‘Pandemic pods’ gain popularity in Oakland, with questions about learning equity

KALW “Your Call”
How Are Families & Teachers Preparing For Another Semester Of Remote Learning?

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The Oakland REACH · 333 Hegenberger Rd Ste 750 · Oakland, CA 94621-1472 · USA

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