From the Desk of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Of all the inspiring voices we heard—including the collective cheer that went up along with our graduation caps—it was our students whose words truly launched the Oakland Promise on Thursday.

“This initiative is changing the narrative,” shared OUSD graduate and current college student Caheri Gutierrez (pictured below). “Instead of looking at Oakland’s young people as at-risk youth, after today we are going to be looking at our young people as at-promise youth.”

“I am giving my kids everything I have,” said Michael Jefferson, a former OUSD student and college graduate who now teaches high school in Oakland. “When I teach, I see myself in them. By existing in their lives I am painting an unfamiliar picture of what they could become, and creating a ripple of generational change. That is the Oakland Promise.” (Michael is pictured below with California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and he shares his journey in this video.)

“The Oakland Promise offers a model for the rest of the state,” said Newsom, “weaving together the best practices to tackle generational poverty in a way never done before.”

U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell echoed the sentiment, praising “the boldness and breadth of this plan. You are changing the narrative and this is a cradle-to-career program. President Obama is looking carefully at what is happening here.”

Superintendent Antwan Wilson and I thank the roughly 600 of you (we lost count!) who showed belief in our “at-promise youth,” including University of California President Janet Napolitano and 19 other college and university leaders, County Superintendent and Supervisors, Oakland City Councilmembers, Oakland School Board Directors, more than 25 funders, nearly 100 organizational champions, and more than 200 Oakland students, teachers, and families.

22 public and private colleges signed a Declaration of Support for the Oakland Promise at the event, partnering with the East Bay College Fund to provide additional counseling, tutoring, and financial support to Oakland students.

Watching the symbolic graduation caps fly was a beautiful moment (see video here)! But to realize the Oakland Promise vision of tripling the number of college graduates from Oakland in the next 10 years, we need to see real caps in the air, and we need your support. I know we can do it, because I have never felt so hopeful for Oakland. As Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said, “The world is changing and it requires doubling down on education.  We all have to fight inequality, so let’s go, Oakland…Let’s make this real!”

We were so proud to stand with you in making a promise to secure the futures of Oakland and its children. I promise to continue working with you to make sure this is a promise we keep for generations to come.

With Oakland Love,
Mayor Libby Schaaf

Become a Champion or Donor 
It is only with partners like you that we can make our ambitious goals a reality. We’re excited to share that more than 500 organizations and individuals have already signed on as Oakland Promise Champions. We hope you’ll join them here. You can also make a tax-deductible donation supporting the Oakland Promise here.

Oakland Promise photos, videos, hashtags, and news
• See more photos from the launch event on the Oakland Ed Fund’sFacebook page here.
• Watch the video we debuted at the launch. (Thanks, Six Finger Films!)
• Several media outlets covered the launch, including SFGate, CBS SF Bay Area, and the Contra Costa Times
• At one point on Thursday, #OaklandPromise was out-trending even #SuperBowl50. Check out the all the Twitter posts here, including video of caps in the air.

• This email was produced with support from the Oakland Public Education Fund. Photos Copyright Hasain Rasheed

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff with Darius Aikens, Oakland High School student leader and launch event emcee

University of California President Janet Napolitano and United States Department of Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell

Executive Director of East Bay College Fund, Diane Dodge and 

OUSD Deputy Chief, Bernard McCune

What a day for Oakland 5th-grader Kazeem, who followed up his morning at the launch event by taking the stage at OUSD’s Oratorical Contest!