Elev8 Oakland

Madison Middle School Students



Elev8 Oakland launched in September 2008 on five school campuses in the city’s flatlands—a series of densely populated neighborhoods characterized by extensive racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. Fifty percent of local residents speak a language other than English at home.

These neighborhoods have been historically underserved, and more than 85 percent of students at Elev8 Oakland schools are living in poverty. The students face a variety of challenges: violence, safety concerns, drugs, health problems, and parents with low levels of education and high levels of unemployment. These factors negatively affect the health and academic achievement of students. All of the Elev8 Oakland schools have Academic Performance Indexes well below California’s target of 800.

Despite the overwhelming challenges these students face, many have aspirations for higher education. The Elev8 team works closely with city and county policymakers, educators, students, families and community partners to strengthen schools so students have the opportunity to pursue their goals. Elev8 Oakland encourages students and families to become catalysts for social change within their communities.

Elev8 Oakland is a program of Safe Passages, founded in 1998 as one of five sites across the country selected to participate in the national Urban Health Initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Today, Safe Passages serves as an intergovernmental partnership including the City of Oakland, the County of Alameda, the Oakland Unified School District, philanthropy and community-based partners who are committed to advocating for children, youth and families, with a special emphasis on vulnerable populations within the County of Alameda.

 Elev8 Oakland’s work was profiled in the Winter 2011 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review. Click here to learn more.


Elev8 Oakland programs offer:

  • Family Advocates and Family Resource Centers at each campus to connect families with resources they need, including housing referrals, making home visits to students who are truant or failing and parenting classes.
  • Family engagement activities, including opportunities for families to celebrate the success of their children.
  • Full-time mental health therapists at each school and case managers for students.
  • "Coordination of Services Team (COST)," a program in which all school partners meet weekly to ensure the 25 neediest students at each school get adequate support.
  • Program coordinators whose task is to coordinate all Elev8 components and promote their integration.
  • Extended-day programs in place at every school campus that provide enhanced academic support, beyond the traditional school day, to students with the greatest need.
  • Summer transition programs for incoming 6th graders and outgoing 8th graders.
  • After-school coordinators at each school, offering a variety of extended-learning programs, academic support, art and music.
  • Health centers that offer primary care, dental screenings and health education.
  • After-school transportation to ensure the safety of students in extended-day/after-school programming.
  • Saturday School History of Gangs Research Project, an innovative extended-learning program to teach high-need students about the impact of gangs on their community.
  • Partnership with Mills College Graduate School of Education, in which education graduate students provide instruction and mentoring to high-need students.
  • Cultural competency training for educators and administrators.
  • Free and bilingual income tax assistance to help families and community members with tax return preparation, ensuring that all eligible families receive the Earned Income Tax Credit and other child tax credits.
  • Violence prevention programs for the entire school population (the introduction of these programs has coincided with a major reduction in suspensions).
  • Workforce development programming for parents and community members.
  • Adult Education classes for parents, including English as a Second Language classes.
  • Legal Services for parents, including undocumented immigrants.
  • Alameda County eligibility technicians in the Family Resource Centers to help families access government benefits and subsidies, such as medical insurance, work programs and food support.
  • EdText, a low-cost text messaging campaign to engage parents in their children's education and school activities.

An Elev8 Oakland Success Story

As part of its ongoing effort to increase parent involvement and build stronger school communities, Elev8 Oakland recently opened Parent Resource Centers at each of its five school sites.

This integral part of the Elev8 initiative has been highly parent-driven, from the initial planning stage through the launch and the current services offered.

"Parents have been so engaged in this process. It is a true testament to the community's desire to be active participants in their children's education," said Maria Fellows, the Elev8 Oakland project coordinator at Roosevelt Middle School.

In preparing the Roosevelt parent center for its opening in early 2009, parents volunteered their Saturday mornings and even some weekdays to work on the center. This broad-based school community effort included Mr. Le, a 72-year-old Vietnamese grandfather of a Roosevelt student, who brought all his tools, rubber mallet, crowbar and oilcan to reconfigure cubicles in the space.

Throughout the year, the centers will offer an array of services for students, families and the broader Elev8 community.

More Elev8 Success Stories

Adolescents with access to school-based health care were 10 times more likely to make a mental health or substance abuse visit than those who were enrolled in a managed care system (HMO) but lacked a school-based facility.
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