As our nation and city continue to be hit by a global pandemic, families are hurting, students are struggling, and hope has been fleeting. We know that during times like this, we are at our strongest when we come together to help one another. Even before the pandemic, literacy proficiency was already incredibly low for Oakland’s Black and Brown students at 19% and 24% respectively. We wanted to ensure our Oakland students do not continue to be left behind while also offering families some type of relief during these rough times.
That is why Educate78 and Energy Convertors called on some of Oakland’s best talent and came together to create The People’s Literacy Fund. It is a fund for Oakland parents, students, and community members to share their strategies for how they are continuing to improve student literacy even in a pandemic.
Our best asset is our people. In that spirit, we have come together to give out $100,000 in mini-grants ranging from $500-$5,000 to lift up the work our community is already doing. Oakland is a community that comes together in a crisis. We will beat this moment together as a community.
Applications will be considered as they are received
Grants will be awarded on rolling basis (est. 2-3 weeks)
Ready to Apply or Want to Learn More?
PRESS CONTACT: Jocelyn Polanco
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
The People’s Literacy Fund Awards $100,000 in Grants to Community Driven Literacy Projects Across Oakland
Grants ranging from $500 to $5,000 are awarded to nearly 30 individuals launching projects in support of helping Oakland kids achieve grade level reading skills
OAKLAND, CA (February 5, 2021) — Educate78 and Energy Convertors, two Oakland-based nonprofits dedicated to improving public education for all students in the Town, have recently announced two rounds of grantee recipients from The People’s Literacy Fund initiative. Educate78 and Energy Convertors are committed to funding community driven solutions for Oakland’s most underserved children including those living in poverty, unhoused students, English learners, newcomer students, and students with special needs. Fewer than 30% of Black and Brown students in Oakland could read at grade level even prior to the pandemic.
Grant recipients include 15 parents, 8 community groups, and 6 schools/educators benefiting 1,450 students. They have provided innovative and culturally relevant literacy support to students during the pandemic. Some of the projects include teaching students to design their own comic books, learn storytelling through animation, and teaching literacy through the lens of hip hop. Other projects include setting up libraries for families living in shelters and building libraries in their own front yards for all to access.
One grant recipient is a mother who received $4,000 for a project that combines basketball and literacy for 4th-6th grade African American boys from West Oakland and the Fruitvale. The project was designed to provide a healthy outlet and connection for families through the pandemic. Every Sunday they meet at a local park to play basketball and are assigned books about their sports heroes to inspire them in applying lessons learned through basketball to their own lives. Their reading list includes books from basketball all-stars including Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball’s Sharpest Shooters, The Wizenard Series, and Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court. With the grant funding they are able to provide stipends to coaching staff, books to students at no cost, and awards for students upon completion of the program.
“Being able to learn how professional basketball players dealt with disappointment, hard work and discipline, while being part of a team and applying it to themselves, takes learning beyond the theoretical into the practical. It allows them to engage in reading and learning that is fun!” – Aishah Bashir, Mother and Grantee of The People’s Literacy Fund
“It means the world to me! It means that we are starting to actually listen to the people navigating the same crappy systems I grew up in. Again, If someone is surviving in Oakland in the season of a global pandemic, crazy gentrification, rising rents, poor schools and yet they are making it happen regarding literacy, then they are heroes. I think we should listen to heroes.”- Charles Cole III, founder of Energy Convertors.
Oakland is a resilient community full of dedicated individuals with creative ideas and solutions to the issues impacting its most underserved students. The People’s Literacy Fund aims to lift up communities that have historically not had the resources available to bring their genius to life.
The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged communities to show up differently for students and for each other. Oakland students have been failed for far too long – it’s time to put resources directly into the hands of the community. A future where generations of Black and Brown families are no longer systemically failed through a lack of basic literacy skills is possible.
For more information, please visit www.educate78.org/peoples-literacy-fund.