Salesforce’s renewed commitment brings total investment to over $32M over five years.
On Tuesday, August 11th, 2020, the Salesforce Foundation announced a $9M grant to the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and Oakland Public Education Fund (the Ed Fund) to support key programs and services for the 2020-21 school year. This marks the fifth year in a row that Salesforce has partnered with OUSD and the Ed Fund, and is their largest investment to date.
Yesterday’s announcement came during an installment of Salesforce’s Leading Through Change series which provides thought partnership, tips, and resources to businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Salesforce Chief Philanthropy Officer and CEO of the Salesforce Foundation Ebony Beckwith hosted the virtual event and spoke with OUSD Superintendent Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell and Steph and Ayesha Curry of Eat. Learn. Play. about how to support students, families, educators, and schools through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we begin a new school year, we want our schools and our students to know they have the full support of everyone here at Salesforce,” says Beckwith, “and we are committed to helping our schools reimagine the future of learning that is equitable, safe, and connected – from anywhere.”
Salesforce’s continued support comes at a time of great need with the coronavirus pandemic temporarily closing school campuses and requiring students and teachers to shift to remote learning. However, almost half of Oakland public school students lack the technology and internet access to connect virtually with their teachers and peers. Long-term partners like Salesforce strengthen the District in their efforts to bridge the digital divide and ensure a continuity of learning while in a remote setting.
A Multipronged Approach to Middle School Transformation
Salesforce grant funding reinforces key District strategies and supports areas of the greatest long-term need. With Salesforce’s ongoing investment, OUSD developed its first middle school computer science program enabling all Oakland students to be introduced to computer science before high school. To combat teacher turnover, particularly in STEM-related courses, grant funding has allowed OUSD to ramp up their educator recruitment, retention, and mentorship efforts.
Since its launch in 2016-17, Salesforce has supported the Oakland School Volunteers (OSV) program, the first active city-wide public school volunteer program that Oakland has had in many years. Oakland has a large and ever-growing population of refugee, immigrant and unaccompanied minors who often arrive with a variety of urgent needs that can prevent them from regularly attending school. Newcomer Navigators, or social workers, specializing in connecting these populations with much needed resources, are directly supported by the Salesforce grant and have become invaluable to students struggling with the transition to life in the US. Grant support also backs District efforts to provide for the whole child including their mental health and social-emotional development.
Renewed Support for the 2020-21 School Year
This year, the partnership will continue to build up middle school STEM programing, expand resources for the growing immigrant and unaccompanied minor population, and bolster educator recruitment and retention efforts. Additionally, this year’s grant sees increased support for middle schools through the Principal’s Innovation Fund (PIF). PIF grants provide funding to all principals of OUSD schools serving grades six through eight to implement innovative solutions to their school’s unique challenges. Finally, funding also supports the launch of a virtual mentorship program hosted through OSV where community members can support high school students as they develop their college and career readiness skills.
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 Latinx Literature Read-In, email firstname.lastname@example.org for next steps.