education Blog

Huge Leaps for Oakland’s Youngest Learners

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is so proud to partner with incredibly committed teachers and leaders who are making learning fun and positive, sparking curiosity, and helping Oakland children make amazing leaps in learning.

I am so proud of our teachers and the amazing progress we're seeing in Oakland children.

I am so proud of our teachers and the amazing progress of Oakland children.

For the past two school years, students whose teachers participated in our professional development program, SEEDS of Learning, experienced double digit gains in school readiness. The Rainin Foundation is fortunate to be in classrooms getting to know these teachers and students, and seeing the progress firsthand. Oakland teachers have shown us their immense dedication, and the love and care that they bring every day to their classrooms. Teachers, I’m so inspired by your big gains and I continue to be filled with hope. Thank you!

As we embark on a new school year, I’m thrilled to share the wonderful results we’ve achieved with our partners and how we are building a continuous path for learners. We look forward to welcoming even more teachers and schools to our cohort, and ensuring every Oakland child has the opportunity to be a successful and joyful learner.

Together, we are creating a brighter future, one Oakland child, teacher, leader and classroom at a time.



Susan True
Director, Education Strategies & Ventures

Achieving Dramatic Gains in our SEEDS Classrooms

Last year, our SEEDS of Learning teachers helped 1300 Oakland children advance their skills to become better and stronger readers prepared to succeed in school! This chart shows the percentage of children in our SEEDS classrooms who progressed to be near, at, or above targets for key skills that are predictive of school readiness.

Percentage of children who progressed to be near, at, or above targets for key skills that are predictive of school readiness.

Percentage of children who progressed to be near, at, or above targets for key skills that are predictive of school readiness.

Our SEEDS of Learning teachers


in our SEEDS of Learning classrooms were on target to be successful readers compared to students with teachers who did not participate in SEEDS of Learning.

Seeing kids gain skills and learn this rapidly is promising, but we will not be satisfied until every child in Oakland enters kindergarten with the skills and enthusiasm to learn, and is successfully reading by third grade.

“I’m incredibly excited by the impact of our partnership with the Rainin Foundation—our kids are making tremendous progress.”– Hae Sin Thomas, CEO, Education For Change

“By emphasizing the importance of early literacy, this partnership will focus energy where we need it most, at the beginning of a child’s education.”– Devin Dillon, PhD, Chief Academic Officer, Oakland Unified School District

Investing in the Adults Who Interact with Children Every Day

The Rainin Foundation is investing significantly in one of the most powerful levers for change—adults who interact with children daily. Our research shows that children learn in the context of home, community and through early childhood education experiences, so supporting adults is the best way to unlock a child’s potential.

Oakland children become enthusiastic and curious learners when we:

Help adults develop positive and personal connections with children. We know that meaningful relationships with adults are inherently linked to a child’s social and emotional development and how they approach learning.

Provide teachers with proven strategies, tools and in-classroom support to help students develop the early childhood skills that are most predictive of kindergarten readiness and later school success.

Listen and learn from teachers and school leaders to fine tune approaches and integrate evidence based strategies into more Oakland schools. We’re thrilled that teachers love SEEDS of Learning—100% would recommend it to a colleague.

Building a Continuous Path for Learners

“Our partnership with the Rainin Foundation is proving that by investing in our committed teachers and giving them the support they need, we can ensure that each of our students has the necessary language and literacy skills for success in school and beyond.”– Hae Sin Thomas, CEO, Education For Change

The Rainin Foundation is excited to continue accelerating progress and testing and scaling proven approaches, which is why we are making an additional $9 million investment over four years in 15 elementary schools. School leaders, teachers and coaches in these schools will work intensively to boost instruction in transitional kindergarten to first grade. It is a learning community and we look forward to partnering with them to strengthen Oakland’s understanding of effective long-term, sustainable strategies that will ensure all children are reading successfully by third grade. This collaboration will help us continue to assess what works and for which children, and how we can best support and coach adults who interact with children every day.

“The Rainin Foundation is our true partner in investing in the teachers and principals who spend each day helping our students. In the coming years, we are confident that we will see Oakland children prepared to fulfill their dreams.”– Antwan Wilson, Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District

Beyond these 15 schools, the Foundation will continue to expand our work with parents, teachers and community organizations. This school year, our SEEDS of Learning program will provide training and support to over 150 pre-kindergarten and transitional kindergarten educators. This professional development program will be at work in nearly every Head Start program in Oakland and in transitional kindergarten classrooms in the Oakland Unified School District, Education for Change, Aspire Public Schools, Castlemont Community Transformation School, Vincent Academy, Urban Montessori and Community School for Creative Education.

Imagining the Potential

As growing numbers of younger children enter second, third and fourth grades with more skills and a deep love of learning, we believe that schools, communities and the city of Oakland will become a place where all children are supported to reach their full potential.


Susan True

Susan True

Director, Education Strategy & Ventures

Susan’s work focuses on directing strategic initiatives and funding to increase the number of Oakland children who are ready for kindergarten and reading at grade level by the end of third grade.  Read more.

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