OUSD and Partner Organization, The Oakland REACH Receive Major Grant to Expand the Citywide Virtual Hub to Support Oakland Students

PRESS RELEASE Friday, March 26, 2021Contact: John Sasaki Communications Director 510-214-2080[email protected]
Oakland, CA — The Oakland REACH (TOR) and the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) announced a new partnership today, “Reaching for More: Literacy and Learning for All.” They are dramatically expanding a virtual hub that will provide research-based literacy instruction and a variety of enrichment opportunities for up to 1,000 students by this summer. Already, while most students in OUSD engage entirely through distance learning, hundreds of young people are reaping the benefits of an important partnership with TOR. 

When the COVID pandemic hit, the need for high-quality literacy instruction grew more urgent than ever. TOR created a one-of-a-kind virtual hub, providing direct programming to more than 200 students in District-run and charter schools. Through that hub, TOR designed the Literacy Liberation Center for K-2 students, resulting in reading growth at nearly twice the rate of students in traditional settings. OUSD launched in-person hubs this past fall for the District’s most vulnerable students including young people who are experiencing homelessness, in foster care, or are newcomers. 

“At the core of this partnership is a belief that solutions must be built WITH families, not just FOR families,” said The Oakland REACH’s co-founder and CEO, Lakisha Young. “Too often, family engagement is a reactive process — for years, TOR has been ‘knocking at the door’ of the room where decisions are made. With this new partnership with OUSD, we are not only opening that door to parents, we are saving them a seat at the table so that families become true catalysts for change.”

TOR and OUSD are receiving a $900,000 grant from the Center on Reinventing Public Education and TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project) to expand out the virtual hub to as many as 1000 students by this summer. The focus of this collaboration is to expand, enhance and create new ways of accelerating literacy and parent partnerships for our Black and Brown students.

The partnership is designed to meet students where they are and provide them all the tools they need to succeed. So far, it has helped hundreds of students:400+ Black and Brown Students and their familiesOn six different pilot campusesExpanding in-person and virtual hubs to provide academic and social enrichmentImplementing proven literacy and family partnership practicesAdditional services & activities provided by community partners, including UC BerkeleyAiming for improved student literacyAlso parent satisfaction and leadership“One of the most important jobs of the District is ensuring that our students can read at grade level or above,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “It’s a well-established fact that if a student is reading below grade level by the third grade, they are significantly disadvantaged for the remainder of their academic career without intervention. This partnership is a key part of our efforts to improve literacy across the city, and ensure that our students are on track to graduate well-prepared for college, career and community success.”
As the District gears up to open schools to in-person instruction, many students plan to return to our campuses, but many others will remain in distance learning. These hubs will serve as an important supplement for all students whether their families keep them in full distance learning or they return to campus this spring for in-person instruction.

The goal of the partnership is to accelerate learning while engaging as many students and families as possible for the remainder of the 20-21 school year. The grant funding will last through December 2021. The Oakland Reach and OUSD are hoping to get the grant extended through the end of the 2021-22 school year. 
###About The Oakland REACH

The Oakland REACH is a parent-run, parent-led group committed to empowering families from our most underserved communities to demand high-quality schools for our children. To date, we have engaged over 5,000 parents by hosting one-on-one conversations about how schools are doing. We have also had over 350 parents go through our Oakland Family Advocacy Fellowship, providing the leadership training needed to change a system that has left students behind for far too long. The Oakland REACH’s Virtual Hub has been featured in local, national, and international media from TIME Magazine to KQED, BBC News, CNN, Univision, The San Francisco Chronicle, and more. TOR will keep fighting until every parent in Oakland who wants to put their child in a quality school—and on a pathway to college—has that opportunity. Learn more: https://oaklandreach.org/ 
About the Oakland Unified School District
In California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 81 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy. We are committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success. 

To learn more about OUSD’s Full Service Community District focused on academic achievement while serving the whole child in safe schools, please visit OUSD.org and follow us @OUSDnews.
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