More than just funding, Salesforce consistently provides valuable resources, exciting opportunities, and most importantly, inspiration to a generation of Oakland students.
Congratulations are in order for two teams of Oakland students who represented their schools well at the Trailblazer Challenge, hosted by Salesforce as part of their annual tech conference, Dreamforce.
Students from half a dozen schools in Oakland and San Francisco Unified School Districts spent several weeks creating innovative solutions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by applying their coding and 3-D printing skills. The two Oakland teams, “Eco BETA” from West Oakland Middle School and “Using Solar 2020” at Urban Promise Academy pitched their projects to top tech executives, including Salesforce Co-Founder Parker Harris, Salesforce Chief Philanthropy Officer Ebony Beckwith, and celebrity actress and activist Kat Graham.
While the judges’ vote went to a San Francisco Unified school, Dreamforce attendees selected West Oakland Middle School’s Eco BETA project for the popular vote, earning new computers for each student and $5000 for their school to support the creation of a makerspace, with Using Solar 2020 coming close behind.
Later that week, students from United for Success Academy and Elmhurst United attended Dreamforce’s Kids Coding Camp to learn about the SDGs, to see the conference’s tech-centered “Trailhead Zone,” and to design a project using technology aimed at addressing a contemporary issue facing their community.
Students from McClymonds High School attended the two-day Future Executive Summit where they networked with top executives in a variety of fields, heard from a panel of inspiring leaders, and engaged in breakout sessions to develop their elevator pitches, practice interview skills, and network with their peers.
Finally, ten students from Bret Harte Middle School participated in a roundtable discussion with David Beckham (yes, that David Beckham) where they had the opportunity to share their perspectives on Beckham’s work on the SDGs. Students spoke eloquently and passionately about the challenges that today’s youth face and ended their roundtable by honoring Beckham as the newest Oakland in the Middle All-Star.
Salesforce Gives Big
Exciting and relevant field trips are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Salesforce’s engagement and support of Oakland schools.
Over the course of just four years, Salesforce has given almost $24M to the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to support key District initiatives, including 21st century STEM learning opportunities, educator professional learning, recruitment and retention as well as social-emotional wellness and whole child supports.
This investment enabled the implementation of OUSD’s first-ever middle school computer science pre-pathway program. It also resulted in a 23 percent decrease in the number of students participating in the Blueprint Math program who are three or more grade levels below. Additionally, funds were used to develop a cohort of math coaches leading middle school teachers across the District in standards-based professional development, and to create a Newcomer Wellness Initiative to support the vast and varied needs of immigrant and refugee youth in Oakland schools.
Salesforce has also donated product licenses and supported the District to build out important data infrastructure to ensure students in need are connected to the resources they need to help ensure they can come to school ready to learn.
As Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said when Salesforce’s renewed commitment to Oakland was announced earlier this year, “This generous donation to support the education of Oakland’s children is tech done right.”
A Community of Volunteers
In addition to providing financial support and products, Salesforce donates volunteer hours through the Adopt an Oakland School program to beautify campuses, appreciate teachers, read aloud to students, and provide academic mentorship. Salesforce has adopted ~14 Oakland schools and provides volunteer support and other resources to each. Schools like Frick Impact Academy have had a long-standing volunteer partnership with Salesforce, solidifying deep relationships between the company’s employees and school
“Our Salesforce [volunteers] have really been integral in making magic happen at Frick Impact Academy! They have literally helped make key events a success!” said Jaymie Lollie, Community School Manager at Frick. “Last year, when planning for our annual holiday event, they gently reminded me that I didn’t have to stuff 75 bags on my own, and that’s what they are here for. And they did! They made that event such a success! They just jumped right in and made it happen!”
With these many varied supports over the course of nearly half a decade, Salesforce has shown a clear commitment to making not just a big impact, but a lasting one. Funding top District priorities, building a community of volunteers in Oakland classrooms, providing valuable career exposure to students, and outfitting the District with state-of-the-art technology is stemming a complete transformation of the middle school experience for students in Oakland.
How to Get Involved
If you work for an organization that is ready to get involved in Oakland schools by providing a grant, adopting a school, or volunteering at an upcoming event like the sixth annual African American Literature Read-In, email firstname.lastname@example.org for next steps.