Video: Oakland North: Oakland nonprofit combines music, life learning

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oaklandnorthStory by Jason Paladino and Jennifer Chaussee

Music producers, DJs and vocalists make up the Oakland-based nonprofit Today’s Future Sound, which teaches music production to students in K-12 schools around the bay and beyond. In its infancy, TFS was a natural convergence of Elliot Gann’s training as a clinical psychologist and his love of hip-hop. For nearly ten years, Gann has been using music production education as a way to create a culturally engaging therapeutic outlet for kids and teens while also teaching them tangible life skills. Oakland North spent some time with Gann, his students and his staff to learn about some of the challenges and highlights of mixing education with hip-hop. Watch the video.

Oakland Local: Ground-breaking consumer-owned higher education institute to launch in Oakland

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treeStory by Liza Veale

Rani Coager and Seyed Amiry believe the current model of financing institutions of higher learning is unsustainable. It has created a population paralyzed by debt and a skills gap that leaves too many un(der)employed despite the fact that nearly half of U.S. employers struggle to fill open positions. Croager and Amiry see this as an opportunity for innovation.

After a long research and development phase, Cooperative Education Ventures is poised to admit its first incoming class next fall right here in Oakland. The institute will be an unprecedented application of the consumer-owned co-op model to higher education.

The curriculum will “train and empower entrepreneurs as well as those who are seeking jobs…particularly in communities that have been under-served, the demographic that could stand to benefit the most from this approach,” said co-founder Seyed Amiry. Because it is a member-owned enterprise, the idea is that participants will have one hundred percent of their tuition fees returned to them over a period of several years. Continue reading

Oakland Local: Library Tour Highlights Inequity in OUSD

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Story by Karl Hatchousd

In November, a Community Study Group was organized in Oakland to examine the role of the school library in today’s technological world. The culminating event of this effort was the January “Imagining A New Future for School Libraries Tour.” On the tour they visited three Oakland Unified School District libraries: One with a strong, professionally staffed, fully-integrated library program (PTA funded), one with a minimal K-5 library in a K-8 school, and one newly renovated with great potential but closed, waiting for staffing.

These three libraries highlight the vast inequity of library services across OUSD schools. According to OUSD data, over 10,000 K-12 students in OUSD have no school library. Another third of the libraries are severely understaffed. At the same time, according to the 2013 STAR, only 38 percent of OUSD 3rd graders are reading at or above grade level. Continue reading


Audio: Youth Radio Perspectives: Superpower

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FemiAjalaBy Femi Ajala

His autism diagnosis devastated Youth Radio's Femi Ajala. Then, he discovered his superpower. Listen to his story here.

Listen to Perspectives on air at KQED Public Radio every weekday morning at 6:06am, 7:35am and 11:30pm and weekends at 7:36am and 8:36am.


Even Odds: Fighting the odds for Oakland's young black males

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Story by Jill Tucker

It was the first Monday in May, and Thomas Logwood was heading to class.

There were just six weeks until the end of the school year at Castlemont High inOakland, and every week seemed to bring another milestone for the 17-year-old senior. His last track meet was coming up. In a few days, he'd attend prom.

And there was the moment he'd strived after for four years, the reward for all the work achieving a 3.5 grade point average and a place near the top of his class of 140: graduation.

It had not been easy. Nothing was inEast Oakland. For a young black man like Thomas, just surviving the crime and poverty that permeated his daily life was an achievement.

In this city, boys of his race are more likely to miss school; be suspended; graduate late, if at all; or be incarcerated than their white, Asian or Latino peers.

Since 2002, the number of African American men killed on the streets ofOaklandhas nearly matched the number who graduated from its high schools ready to attend a state university.

Castlemont was no refuge.

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KQED American Graduate Education Town Hall

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Thursday, September 12, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM (PDT)


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KQED, 100 Black Men of the BayAreaCommunitySchool, OaklandUnifiedSchool Districtand OUSD Office of African American Male Achievement invite you to join us on Thursday, September 12, 2013 for KQEDAmericanGraduateEducationTown Hallwhere the topic of discussion will highlight innovative educational solutions to the crisis facing Oakland’s African American male youth.

The event will open with remarks from KQED and theOaklandUnifiedSchool District, followed by a youth performance by Young, Gifted and Black, a cultural arts and education repertory group of youth that uses historic poetry, rap and song to teach Black History and Black Pride.

We will watch Geoffrey Canada’s TED TALKS EDUCATION segment, along with KQED’s documentary on African American Male Achievement and OUSD.

This will be followed by a panel discussion. Panelists are Dr. Mark Alexander (Founder, 100 Black Men Bay Area Community School), Mr. Christopher Chatmon (Executive Director, African American Male Achievement), Rev. Dr. Charley Hames, Jr. (Senior Pastor, Beebe Memorial Cathedral) and Ms. Jill Tucker (Education Reporter, San Francisco Chronicle).

To learn more about TED TALKS EDUCATION, please visit:

This program is designed to extend public awareness, debate and community action around important issues related to the dropout crisis, showcased in TED TALKS EDUCATION (the first-ever TED project specifically produced for television) and is part of American Graduate:  Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”



Oakland Local: Education Voices: Safe routes to schools are elusive in Oakland

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EOYDC-RoutesSEMIFINAL-659x478June 27, 2013
By Barbara Grady, Irene and Jon Leckie
Kahmaria Adams, 15, listens to gospel music on her commute to school through the harrowing streets of East Oakland. She takes two city buses to get from home to Piedmont High School. She’s got the hour-long routine down, but there’s one stretch of the bus ride that gets to her.

“I always have the feeling that something will happen. On the bus I feel like I need to stay alert and watch out for troublesome people around me,” she said.

Jordan Williams, 15, always carries mace with him wherever he goes. “I don’t really feel any danger,” he starts when asked to describe his daily commute. “But, you know, the kidnappings and things like that. That’s kind of scary. So, you know, I keep an eye out, looking back every couple times to make sure, like, nothing strange is going on around me.”

He travels from his home on Seminary Avenue in East Oakland to Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo.

“I keep my mace just in case something happens, like someone tries to come up and do a sneak attack.”

To read more.

100 Black Men Community School of the Bay Area

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KQED will be working with the 100 Black Men Community of the Bay Area on an upcoming Teacher Town Hall on September 12, 2013. The videos were created by Joshua Alexander to showcase the continued impact that the 100 Black Men Community School is having on the community and their students.

New Initiative Aims to Double Percentage of Oakland Youth Reading on Grade Level by the End of Third Grade by 2020

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oaklandreads2020PRESS CONFERENCE: MONDAY, JUNE 17, 2013 AT 10:30 AM; Oakland Marriott City Center (1001 Broadway Oakland, CA 94607)

New Initiative Aims to Double Percentage of Oakland Youth Reading on Grade Level by the End of Third Grade by 2020

City of Oakland, Oakland Unified School District and Nearly 100 Organizations Announce Oakland Reads 2020, An Initiative Aimed at Dramatically Improving Reading Proficiency for Oakland’s Youth

Oakland, CA – When kids read at grade level, especially by the end of third grade, their future is much brighter. The Mayor, Oakland Unified School District Superintendent, parents, and other community organizations and leaders gathered on June 17th to announce Oakland Reads 2020. This multi-year initiative identifies and supports solutions that increase the percentage of children reading on grade level by the end of third grade.

As its goal, Oakland Reads 2020 will bring the community together to double the percentage of children reading on grade level by the end of third grade from 42% to 85%.

“The current status quo is unacceptable,” stated Jean Quan, Mayor of the City of Oakland. “Every child in this city deserves an opportunity to learn to read and write, and we have an obligation to support solutions that will assist them. This campaign affects all of us. Successful students can reach their dreams, strengthen our local economy, and help us reduce violence in our community.”

The initiative focuses on helping students read on grade level by the end of third grade because studies show that it is one of the most important predictors for high school graduation and career success. For example, children from low-income families are 13 times less likely to graduate from high school if not reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Oakland Reads 2020 will address reading proficiency by creating a shared vision and network of early literacy resources that are accessible, collaborative, integrated and supported.

"Children reading on grade level by Grade 3 is critical to a healthy future," stated Tony Smith, Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District. "That's why we have to dedicate more of our efforts to helping kids from an early age. OUSD knows that schools and teachers cannot do it alone, and we welcome the collaborative approach of Oakland Reads 2020."

With less than half of its third graders reading on grade level, Oakland leaders decided take action and develop an effort to engage students and parents beyond the classroom. Oakland Reads 2020 focuses its efforts on four areas they believe will help increase the percentage of students reading on grade level by the end of third grade:

· School Readiness: Oakland Reads 2020 will support community-driven efforts to ensure that every child enters kindergarten ready to learn and has quality early learning opportunities.

· School Attendance: Oakland Reads 2020 will support strategies to increase school attendance and reduce chronic absence.

· Summer Learning: Oakland Reads 2020 will support access to summer activities that help Oakland’s students not to lose ground in the summer months.

· Family Engagement: Oakland Reads 2020 will support parents, grandparents and caregivers because they are the first and most important teachers and advocates for children.

“Beginning this summer, our community-driven network will build on Oakland’s collaborative spirit and identify strategies to help children read on grade level,” stated Brian Rogers, Executive Director of the Rogers Family Foundation. “We are committed to working collectively over the next seven years and to continuing to share strategies, goals and metrics for success with the community.”

Oakland Reads 2020 will also work with the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to strengthen its work. The national campaign is comprised of 124 communities committed to improving reading proficiency.

“The City of Oakland, like communities all over the United States, is showing what is possible when people come together to help children read proficiently by improving school readiness, attendance and summer learning,” stated Ralph Smith, Senior Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “I am excited to see how Oakland innovates, particularly in relation to family engagement. The city can be a model for other communities.”

While Oakland Reads 2020 is focused on early childhood education, the initiative envisions their work leading to an Oakland where students will continue to be supported until they graduate from high school and will be fully prepared for the 21st century economy.

To learn more about Oakland Reads 2020, visit

About Oakland Reads 2020: Oakland Reads 2020 is a community initiative aimed at dramatically increasing the number of Oakland students reading on grade level by the end of the third grade. The network is comprised of the City of Oakland, the Oakland Unified School District and nearly 100 public and private organizations. Oakland Reads 2020 is a chapter of the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (

Oakland Reads 2020 is currently supported by a collaborative group of funders that includes the Rogers Family Foundation, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and the East Bay Community Foundation. Oakland Reads 2020 seeks to leverage and maximize resources, and welcomes participation and matching funds from other foundations and corporations.


Dan Cohen, Full Court Press Communications    

O: 510-465-8294; C; 510-282-7621                            

Full Court Press Communications

O:510-550-8176; C: 530-305-9427

Oakland Local: OUSD names new school board member

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ACW-familyJune 13, 2013
The OUSD school board just voted to appoint Anne Campbell-Washington to represent District 4, given former board member Gary Yee’s appointment as Acting Superintendent.

Anne Campbell-Washington is the mother of two OUSD kids and a longtime Oakland public servant who has served in multiple city administrations and departments. She will serve the remaining 18 months of the term, and there will be an open election for the seat in November 2014.

To read more.