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Secretary Cardona appoints Oakland nonprofit’s CEO to new parent council

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has named the founder of an Oakland nonprofit recognized for its work with Black and Latino families during Covid school closures to be a member of a new “Parents and Families Engagement Council.” Cardona announced the formation of the council on June 14.

Lakisha Young, CEO of the Oakland REACH, will be among the representatives of more than a dozen national organizations that the U.S. Department of Education said would encompass families of students in public, charter, private and home schools. The council will identify ways families can amplify their voices and participate in school decisions. In coming weeks, the department said, it will hold sessions with parents, educators and school community members on how schools are providing academic, mental health and social and emotional support and what can be done in the coming school year.

Young founded Oakland REACH five years ago. During the Covid summer of 2020, when Oakland shut its school sites, the organization created a “city-wide virtual hub” to offer live online instruction in math and English language arts as well as enrichment programs in science and cooking for  K-8 Oakland children in mostly low-income Black and Latino families. Since then it has created liaisons to work with families and to train parents and community members to be advocates and literacy tutors.

Two months ago, Oakland REACH received a surprise $3 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to continue its work.