Kenneth Rainin Foundation funding supports citywide effort to increase literacy and close the achievement gap.
Oakland, Calif. – The Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced today it has invested more than $3 million in 39 district and charter elementary schools in Oakland for the 2017-18 school year. This funding will support a multi-year partnership and citywide effort to boost literacy, with the goal of getting every child reading at grade level by third grade. Only one in three children in Oakland reach this milestone—one of the most important predictors of high school graduation and success in life.
“Giving every child in every neighborhood a strong start in school is an important way we are investing in Oakland’s future,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “In addition to being an early champion of the Oakland Promise, the Rainin Foundation is providing the type of hands-on expertise and partnership that will spark a lasting change in our schools and benefit Oakland students and families for years to come.”
A Learning Partnership with 16 Oakland Schools
As a part of this investment, the Rainin Foundation has formed a deep learning partnership with 16 schools. These schools will intensively focus on boosting outcomes for students by building a continuum of learning from transitional kindergarten through first grade. The funding includes a robust professional development program to strengthen instructional leadership and improve curriculum, along with classroom tutors and coaching support for teachers. These schools use regular assessments to test and learn what helps children progress, including struggling students.
“It’s vital to close the achievement gap as early as possible,” said Kyla Johnson-Trammell, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Superintendent. “The Rainin Foundation’s partnership has helped give OUSD the opportunity to intensively focus on the beginning of children’s education and improve learning opportunities for our students and their teachers.”
Students Achieve Double-Digit Gains
This transitional kindergarten through first grade program was piloted during the 2016-2017 school year. During this time, schools saw extraordinary results with children achieving dramatic, double-digit gains in meeting benchmark targets for literacy. Data at RISE Community School in East Oakland illustrates the transformation. In 2015, only 3% of kindergarten students at RISE were on target for later reading success, but the results were drastically different at the end of the pilot year when 73% of kindergarten students were on target.
“We are thrilled to continue supporting teachers and accelerating progress for Oakland children,” said Susan True, Director of Education, Strategy & Ventures at the Rainin Foundation. “We’re starting this school year strong with big student gains, a new superintendent who has a wealth of elementary school experience and understands the power of preparing young kids to succeed, and teachers who feel supported and encouraged by their students’ remarkable growth.”
Scaling Proven Approaches
For the past three years, the Rainin Foundation has tested and scaled proven approaches to accelerate literacy and language development progress for Oakland children at nearly 60 schools. In 2014, the Foundation funded the implementation of a professional development program, “SEEDS of Learning,” in preschool and transitional kindergarten classrooms to boost kindergarten readiness. This program gives teachers the tools to make sure children have a strong start. It also helps teachers identify and target skills where children need the most support. After multiple years of tremendous student growth, the Foundation expanded its investments to kindergarten and first grade classrooms.
“This partnership with the Rainin Foundation is proving that by investing in and supporting teachers and helping them learn and collaborate together we can ensure that each of our students has the opportunity to succeed in school,” Hae Sin Thomas, CEO, Education For Change. “Our students have made tremendous progress, and our teachers love the structure and support that the program provides.”
Beyond funding for schools, the Foundation continues to expand its work with parents and community organizations to provide everyday literacy rich experiences for kids from birth to eight years old.
“Our partnerships are giving Oakland teachers the support they need. In the process, we’re also building a strong system that enables good instruction, creates enthusiastic young readers, and can withstand year-to-year challenges,” said True.