Oakland nonprofit, school district awarded $900,000 to keep growing ‘City-Wide Virtual Hub’
The parent empowerment organization Oakland REACH and Oakland Unified are one of six partnerships nationwide that will receive funding to continue developing one of the pandemic’s hopeful innovations: community learning hubs.
The $900,000 grant from the Center on Reinventing Public Education and TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project) will enable Oakland REACH and the district to hire 30 literacy tutors and liaisons to continue distance learning, tutoring, student enrichment programs and family services in a half-dozen schools through the summer.
Oakland REACH created its City-Wide Virtual Hub in spring 2020 when learning hubs or pods were synonymous with groups of wealthy families hiring private tutors in their homes. The community hub that co-founder and CEO Lakisha Young organized initially provided virtual summer school for 200 low-income Oakland students, as well as afternoon enrichment activities, a K-2 literacy program, cash help for struggling parents and a family empowerment center to help parents with technology and other needs.
Last fall it doubled to serve 400 students with family liaisons helping students with distance learning through the district during the morning, supplemented by services and activities provided by more a dozen community partners, including UC Berkeley, in the afternoon. This summer, the program could serve 1,000 children, Young said.
The shape of the community learning hub will continue to evolve this fall, when Young expects many low-income families of color in Oakland will not be sending their children back for in-person instruction. Families will dictate what form it takes, she said.
Along with the Oakland Partnership, others receiving funding are Central Falls School District in Rhode Island, the DeKalb County School District in Georgia, Edgecombe County Public Schools in North Carolina, Guilford County Public Schools in North Carolina and Indianapolis Public Schools.
“These districts and their community partners are thinking beyond the immediate crisis. They are learning from families and community groups to create new and better systems for supporting students,” said TNTP CEO Dan Weisberg and Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education.