education Blog

Updates & Gratitude from the Education Program

For the past four years, I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with many talented and committed partners to ensure that Oakland’s youngest learners are on track for reading and language success, and better prepared to thrive in school and life. I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together.

I know that Oakland’s children will truly be better off because of our joint efforts.  And, as much as I love doing this work with you, I have decided to make a change. Santa Cruz County has called me home. I recently accepted an offer to serve as the CEO of the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, where I will work to build success in education and economic vitality. My first day is October 11.

This change does not affect the Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s deep commitment to Oakland or any of our projects together. Our board and staff are thrilled with the progress we are making. Indeed, we take great joy in our small wins and big victories, and even in the slow changes we see.

Since we started this work, we have:

Increased Education Funding

Our Oakland education funding has grown from $500,000 to over $6 million.

Developed Partnerships

Our deep learning partnerships with nonprofits, district and charter schools, and the City are creating day-to-day improvements in children’s lives and the conditions for long-term change.

Improved Literacy Development

We have accelerated language and literacy development for thousands of preschool through first grade children. A special thank you to all the educators who are part of SEEDS of Learning. And, I’m so grateful to our principal and coach leaders for launching this important work in kindergarten and first grade.

Completed Ambitious Research

Our research is helping us shape our work. An enormous thank you to the hundreds of families who let us speak with them—in their homes—about their experiences raising young children in Oakland.

Leaving has been such a hard decision because of you and our colleagues in this work. The decision became much easier, however, through our CEO Jen Rainin’s continued leadership. Jen has appointed Carla Bryant to serve as the Rainin Foundation’s new Director of Education Strategy and Ventures. Carla has had her own early education consulting practice. She also recently served as Chief of the Early Education Department at San Francisco Unified School District. She is enormously talented, passionate and dedicated to an equitable start for Oakland kids. Carla is a friend and colleague. She and I will work together through my transition and in the years to come. Carla’s first day at the Foundation is September 18.  She will be part-time, transitioning to full-time by March 2018.

And, she will have an exceptional team. We are a small but mighty group here at the Rainin Foundation. Many of you know and love our education staff: Paula, Karen, Lisa, Emily and Emily. SEEDS of Learning founder Kate Horst will also continue her work in Oakland. An enormous thank you to Kate for making Oakland her home away from home these past few years.

I want Oakland to be a better place to be a young child, where the teachers and families who care for children each day feel they can flourish, too. I hope the Rainin Foundation can continue to count on you in our efforts to improve the lives of Oakland’s youngest students.

Thank you for your support and for helping me learn so much over these past four years.

Susan True



Susan True
Director, Education Strategy & Ventures

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