Kay Lawson
Professor Emerita of Political Science, San Francisco State University

Oakland Serves

Description of Program

·        An initiative by the City of Oakland and the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD)  to raise the City’s high school graduation rate by providing a special program for at risk students.

·        Designed by Oakland  Serves, a group of professionals from academia, government, and the business world

·        Program goals:  Motivate students to (a) stay in school and graduate, (b) pursue post-secondary education, (c) move on to productive careers, (d) develop civic leadership

·        Benefits to students:  Paid internships during school year, coupled with one on one mentoring for job skills and school work.


Need for Program

·        In 2014, only 60.5% of Oakland’s high school students earned their high school diplomas or Graduate Equivalency Degrees within 4 years (as compared to 80.8% statewide) and more than 24.1% dropped out altogether.

·        For African Americans the 2014 dropout rate in Oakland was 26.3% (a 2.5% increase from previous year) and only 57.2% graduated within 4 years.  For Latinos the 2014 dropout rate in Oakland was 26.8% (a 1.6% increase from previous year) and only 54.4% graduated within 4 years.


How Program Works

·        Selection of students and mentors in consultation with Linked Learning (OUSD) and partner organizations.

·        Students and  mentors will attend  training seminars designed for this program by the Mentoring Center.

·        Mentors provide help with school work (at least three hours per week, one on one), provide training in job skills, and monitor student attendance and performance. They also consult with employers as necessary to ensure best results.  They meet regularly to exchange ideas, share difficulties and solutions, and support one another.

·        Students attend mentoring sessions and work five to eight hours per week for stipends consistent with minimum wage. Transportation expenses will be covered


How to Volunteer to Mentor

·        See "Expression of Interest" form under "Mentors" on website:  www.oaklandserves.org

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