Oakland Promise: Cradle to Career


Graphic by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

For the first time in school history, Cal State East Bay will guarantee admission to any Oakland student that meets the minimum CSU requirements.

This comes in collaboration with the Oakland Promise initiative created by Oakland officials, the mayor’s office and Oakland Unified School District. On Jan. 28 CSUEB President Leroy M. Morishita, along with 22 other colleges, signed a declaration of support to the project. Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College, Merritt College, Mills College, San Francisco State University, University of California Berkeley and the University of San Francisco have also all signed on to guarantee admission spots to qualified Oakland students.

“At Cal State East Bay, what we want to do in this promise is we want to offer the opportunity for every student who has worked hard and become eligible to enter our university that we will admit them whether they come directly from the high schools or via the community colleges,” Morishita said.

The project has been titled “The Oakland Promise: Cradle to Career” and they mean it literally. Part of the promise is “Brilliant Baby” which will give babies born into poverty in Oakland a $500 college savings account in their name and their parents will be rewarded financially based on their child reaching development milestones. “Brilliant Baby” will launch as a pilot in fall 2016 and serve 250 families in the first year.

Kindergarten to College is another part of the promise, which by 2020, will provide every Oakland student that enters kindergarten with a college savings account of $100 in their name. The program will begin in the fall of 2016 through a phased approach over three years and expand to charter school in fall 2017.

According to multiple city and OUSD officials, the promise program has been in the works for years but recent funding and partnerships like those with CSUEB have allowed it to finally be put into action. According to OUSD, children of college graduates are three times more likely to go to college. Out of the Oakland students that begin ninth grade in the OUSD, 67 percent graduate high school, 45 percent start college and 10 percent graduate college — something the program is aiming to change.

“Too many Oakland students grow up without the hope of going to college,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “But if you grow up knowing that your city has already invested in your education, it provides incredible motivation and shows that college is possible. It’s giving them the resources to go to college and allow every family to know that all of their children can be college bound and pursue their dream careers.”

Promise will provide financial support to address the costs that discourage many low-income students from pursuing a college education, something that is prominent in Oakland. Students who attend two year and technical colleges will receive up to $1,000 per year and students at four year colleges will receive up to $4,000 per year. In addition, every qualified Oakland student will receive a college scholarship between $1,000 and $16,000, with built-in support from colleges and local community organizations.

Future Centers are one of the built-in support systems that will be offered at high schools and colleges. Every Oakland student will have access to technology, resources and staff for help when they for college, financial aid, scholarships and internships. The staff will also help students start a career and college plan, as well as collaborate with OUSD and the East Bay College Fund to launch and sustain the centers.

By 2026, Promise’s goal is to have 55,000 college savings accounts opened, $100 million in college scholarships awarded, triple the number of college graduates from Oakland and serve nearly 200,000 students and families.