Last year Ride for a Reason raised $131,000 for seven Oakland Public Schools: Roosevelt Middle School At Roosevelt Middle School, we have used the funds raised through R4R to help fund numerous field trips. This year Roosevelt students will visit the Exploratorium, Chabot Space and Science Center, the Oakland Ice Rink, Crab Cove in Alameda, the Oakland Museum, and Fort Ross. In addition, our students have had the opportunity to experience the outdoors through camping and hiking excursions, including a whitewater rafting adventure on the South Fork of the American River.
We have also been able to provide our students with much needed new sports equipment, including footballs, dodge balls, equipment bags, basketballs, flexibility assessment testers, and badminton equipment.
Finally, at Roosevelt we work hard to build a strong relationships between students and staff. R4R funds have helped support monthly campus-wide community building activities such as student vs. staff games, community art projects, and student clubs (Gay-Straight Alliance, Girls' Empowerment, Robotics, etc...). Claremont Middle School At Claremont Middle School we have a very diverse student population, and we are proud to help the school support programs that provide all our students with the education they deserve. We fund the school librarian, extra aides in math classes, art and music programs, and nature-focused field trips. We also provide supplemental funding for teachers’ classroom supplies, and as many athletic programs as possible.
Edna Brewer Middle School Brewer has a socio-economically disadvantaged rate of 70% and it is the most diverse middle school in Oakland Unified by many measures. Funds raised from Ride for a Reason are being divided this year between our innovative peer tutoring program and our teacher educational enhancement mini-grant program:
Run by grade-level teachers and our librarian, the Edna Brewer Peer Tutoring Initiative is an after-school program that creates a study space for low, middle, and high-achieving students to complete academic work together and create a school-wide culture of success. The goals of the program are to identify and support to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students who are struggling with academics and organization; support the 8th grade “Promotion For All” study hall that has successfully increased the number of 8th grade students who can walk the stage at the end of year Promotion Ceremony; provide leadership opportunities for students in which they assist in closing the achievement gap; and create an academic culture in which Ds and Fs are not tolerated.
Ride for a Reason funds have allowed peer tutoring to double its participants this year. Now in its 3rd year, this program is becoming an integral part of Edna Brewer Middle School’s mission to close the achievement gap and prepare students for success in high school. The funds compensate school staff for their extra work time and provide modest “service awards” for our dedicated student tutors.
Ride for a Reason funds allowed us to fund 17 teacher Mini-Grants for a total of $6,200. The program supports teachers for specific projects to further the educational enrichment of our students. This year we added a category to support 1st and 2nd year teachers with classroom management incentive programs. Funded projects include drumming and youth leadership for restorative justice; new microscopes and balances for our science program; classroom book sets for literature circles; curricula targeted to our native Spanish-speaking students; and raffles to incentive positive classroom behavior.
Emerson Elementary School Ride for a Reason funds art and music enrichment at Emerson Elementary. It fully funds the choral music program, Cantare Con Vivo. With music every week for kindergarteners through second graders, all of our students learn to read and write music by second grade. This award-winning program is the highest-rated arts education program in Oakland, bringing choral music education and performance opportunities to all our students. Children learn diverse folk songs and singing games from around the world, while building fundamental musical skills through a sequential curriculum based on the Kodály music education program and the National Standards for the Visual and Performing Arts.
Emerson is also able to use these funds to support our art program with our nearby partner, Studio One Art Center. Each class gets a six to eight week elective at Studio One focusing on a specific discipline (like ceramics, sculpture, photography, painting, public art, cartooning, or animation). The classes take place at the wonderful Studio One facility, so the projects can be ambitious and messy! The public art classes decorate Emerson Elementary with original student art. About 83% of Emerson students are socio-economically disadvantaged.
Oakland International High School We divide the funds between mental health services and after school sports programming.
Even without the budget challenges posed by the recession, providing mental health services is difficult at OIHS. With over 32 languages on campus, no single provider could possibly treat our student population. We have to search for a variety of providers with linguistic and cultural competencies to meet our students’ needs and they are needy. Virtually no one immigrates to a new country because things are good where they came from. Our students' families are escaping poverty, violence, and war. Some families immigrate here gradually: many of our students are joining parents whom they have not seen in years. All of our students miss family and friends left behind. Navigating a new country under these circumstances is tremendously difficult. Your R4R funds allow us to provide additional language-specific mental health services for students who do not have Medi-Cal, or other mental health service access.
Our students at OIHS have three things in common: they are immigrants, they want to learn English, and they love soccer. Soccer is the cultural glue that binds together a hugely diverse student body. On a student’s first day in American school, everything feels foreign and impossible ... until soccer practice starts. Finally, something a new immigrant understands and can participate in effortlessly and joyfully. It is a place to find friends, support, and a healthy and safe place to be after school. Oakland International partners with the amazing non-profit Soccer Without Borders to provide an after-school soccer program five days a week for 150 students. They also provide academic support and mentoring to team members. R4R funds will be used to support this ongoing, amazing, necessary work. At Oakland International High School, 100% of the students are classified by the district as socio-economically disadvantaged.
Oakland Technical High School Incoming R4R funds support our Mini and Maxi Grant program to fund supplemental activities in the classrooms not otherwise funded through the annual school budget. Mini and Maxi grants have been a critical stopgap for teachers and administrators to provide basic needs in the face of overall school funding shortages.
Mini and Maxi Grant funds pay for simple things that would normally be provided by a school site budget: field trips, replacement computers, special lab equipment, printing services, special software, additional support for the Special Education program, all things that wealthier school districts take for granted. Without R4R, these grants would be very small or not there at all.
Using a $500 Maxi Grant, Special Education students have been learning knitting. During the spring semester, they made baby hats and other items. Instructor Su Coburn arranged to donate some of their handicrafts to Children’s Hospital, where they have been given to newborn babies to help keep them warm after birth. Hand-knitted hats is a special gift to these infants and their families. That’s Riding for a Reason.
Oakland Tech is an Oakland school pulling itself up by its bootstraps. In recent years it has reorganized its curriculum, dividing the learning tracks into separate academies to focus students’ learning and interests. The principal, staff and parents have ramped up the curriculum to offer challenging classes that attract and keep some of Oakland’s best students. Oakland Tech now boasts full attendance (more than 2000 students) and a waiting list for these academies. The school has been raising test scores and is proud of its success at increasing graduation rates to well above OUSD and state averages. In 2015, almost 400 students took Advanced Placement exams. About 53% of Oakland Tech students are socio-economically disadvantaged. Westlake Middle School Eagle Village/Westlake Middle School is glad to be a recipient of the Ride For A Reason fundraising efforts and participate in the ride. Our school struggles with competitive enrollment issues and our numbers and resources for support programs have been reduced. Although we are located near Lake Merritt, our school demographics still qualify us for school-wide free-reduced lunch and breakfast. Although the general economy is improving, the cost of living in Oakland creates financial issues for some of our families. We are seeing more social/emotional challenges for our students, but we seek out programs and projects to help our families become partners in their student’s success and build our school community.
We use our R4R funds across multiple departments, bolster our after-school programs and fill the gaps that the general school budget does not cover. The financial support allowed us to bring on an after-school sports program that supports 30 students two days a week with self-esteem building and academic support. We purchased computer equipment (special headsets and software) to support a targeted group of 6th and 7th graders in an after-school mentoring program for students who need individual math support. We also use the funds to support students and families who don’t qualify for all social services but need help to afford transportation to ensure that their students attend school and that their parents attend important trainings and conferences. Other programs such as after-school, art, gardening and library services are slated to receive some of the funding for targeted projects. Each of these programs has become the heartbeat and a sense of pride at our school.
About Ride for A Reason Ride for A Reason is a fundraising ride sponsored by the Claremont Middle School PTA benefitting seven public schools in Oakland. All donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. (Tax ID: 94-6171801)