Quality Schools

Building the conditions and capacity for high-quality schools

Many of the ills that plague our society can be traced back to our education system and its shortcomings. When we are satisfied with mediocrity and some students doing without the best, all of us lose in the long run. It puts our city and our nation at risk. The answers to these disparities lie in our ability to transform public education so that it serves students of all backgrounds and all abilities. – Antwan Wilson, Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District

We know that students learn and excel in high-quality schools that have stable and inspired leadership, well-supported and effective teachers, value student and parent voice, provide a system of community supports, and foster a positive student-centered school culture. We believe that Oakland students deserve access to such schools and that these schools can and do exist in our community. We just need more of them, urgently. Previously, the Foundation’s goals for quality schools focused on creating conducive conditions in governance, policy, and practices to build and supporting a school system capable of delivering excellence and equitable opportunities for all of Oakland’s public schools. Today, Oakland’s local education ecosystem is in a much better place. The local charter sector continues to thrive, with many new school operators committed to serving the most underserved students, showing gains in student growth, and contemplating ways for expanding and building their brands of education. Agents for change have also taken root and sprouted. GO Public Schools Oakland, for example, has grown in its role in organizing, mobilizing, advocating, and engaging the community in local education governance and policy. It has also become a key collaborator, setting the table for bringing together cohorts of teacher fellows and facilitating and managing a community-based coalition for quality schools. The emergence of both the Oakland Public Education Fund (Ed Fund) and Educate78 have also added strong leadership and expanded the capacity of the local education ecosystem. The Oakland Ed Fund has emerged as the city’s trusted, go-to fiscal partner and funder convener, incubating nearly every significant education reform initiative supporting Oakland’s PK-12 system, including the Foundation’s Next Generation Learning Challenge in Oakland initiative. Educate78 has emerged as an important funder, technical assistance provider, and critical and vital voice in local education policy.

The growing strength of these (and many other) organizations, combined with the aligned vision, political will, and call to action by the city’s Superintendent and Mayor, creates fertile ground for the Foundation’s quality schools efforts. We see our role as continuing to create the environment, facilitate the partnerships, and fund the highest potential school investments that ensure the system has the capacity and bandwidth to create the high-quality schools our students so urgently need and deserve.

The goal for Quality Schools is to create new high-quality schools with the collective capacity to serve 10,000 students by 2020. To accomplish this, the Foundation will focus on growing successful schools, creating quality opportunities for the most underserved students, and building capacity for new school (re)design and data/action to drive change.


Our Focus on Quality Schools

  • Expand and grow successful charters led by strong leaders. We remain committed to creating opportunities for replicating high-performing and innovative operators. The Foundation will also track and connect with new, emerging single-school operators with strong boards and school leaders who demonstrate both a desire and capacity to grow their school model. As appropriate, feasible, and needed, we will recruit and partner with charter management organizations not yet in Oakland who seek to enter the local arena and have established track records of success in other communities.
  • In order to bring together the local education community and to empower parents to champion transformation of Oakland’s lowest performing schools, we will support opportunities to collaborate in order to collectively create the conditions for quality schools development.
  • Build system design capacity to launch new/redesigned quality schools. We laud Oakland Unified School District’s commitment to targeting and transforming its most underserved schools. The pace of change, however, must be expedited. To do so, we will look to partner in the creation of an independent, autonomous Oakland School Design Lab to increase the system’s capacity for quality school design and implementation.
  • Support opportunities to use data to drive school transformation. We will continue to make data a priority by increasing access for leaders, teachers, parents, students, and community partners to timely, accurate, and actionable data to improve student outcomes and ensure greater transparency.
  • Invest staff time to amplify work through strategic communications and other complementary tactics. For the highest leverage opportunities, the Foundation’s staff are committed to providing assistance beyond grant investments to advance the success of our quality school strategies.


Oakland Achieves Partnership - Third Annual Progress Report

The Oakland Achieves Partnership has released its third annual progress report focused on key student outcomes across a cradle-to-career continuum.


CityBridge Foundation: Tools to 100 Schools

Tools to 100 Schools is a roadmap to much faster student proficiency growth in Washington, D.C.’s
public schools. Tools inventories successful school models already operating in D.C. and around
the nation and asks a framing question: How many replications of successful schools—or school
turnarounds led by proven operators or with nonprofit partners—would D.C. need every year to reach
almost all of our underserved students within a decade? To answer that question, the CityBridge
Foundation built a simple mathematical model—the basis of Tools.