Beta On Oakland School Volunteering

You know that sharing time and energy with local Oakland school kids is a mitzvah, a good deed.

Yet you probably have experienced a few internal hurdles like:  I don’t have enough time.  I don’t remember geometry.  I don’t know what to do. Some Montclarions decided to help everyone leap over these hurdles and organized a Volunteer Faire tomorrow – where it’s possible to get all the beta on Oakland school volunteering.

As a preview, we want to share the breadth of volunteer possibilities here and now.  There seems to be something for all would-be volunteers, even after work or on weekends.  Scan all the opportunities below, and get jumping!

Tutor An Oakland Student

Elementary School Opportunities

For younger students, there are many ways to help them improve their literacy.  While you can make an obvious impact on learning, we think the Saturday field trips also sound like fun.

  • Experience Corps OaklandIf you’re 55+ years, then mentor kids one-on-one or in small groups with reading and homework – 2 hours/week – Reach David Moren,
  • Lafayette School Mentoring ProjectGet trained in language arts or math tutoring, then tutor or assist teachers in classrooms. – 1.5 hours/week, includes evening sessions – Reach Jessica Bilsky,
  • Oakland Parents Literacy ProjectHelp promote parental involvement and literacy, through Family Reading Nights – 2-3 hours/Wed evening events – Reach Denise Geer,
  • Reading PartnersReceive training, and then tutor one student who’s struggling with reading – 1 hour/week with semester commitment – Reach Salleha Chaudhry,
  • Super Stars LiteracyHelp disadvantaged K-2 students with their reading; Also accompany them on weekend field trips – 3 days/week for three weeks, and/or 4-5 hours/Sat – Reach Erin Drake or Jessica Berry,,

Elementary-Middle School Opportunities

Some organizations reach out to middle schoolers, and there’s a bit more variety for volunteers.  You can help an organization grow, be hands-on with kids, or assist in the school libraries.

  • Brothers On The RiseHelp set up and develop this organization; Also males requested for Speakers Series, to address Fruitvale boys aged 8-14 years old – Reach Jon Gilgoff,
  • Faith Network of the East BayGet training and help kids as a reading tutor or library assistant; Also consider becoming a math tutor or classroom assistant – 1-2 hours/week – Reach Randy Roth or Rebecca Buckley, or

Middle-High School Opportunities

For older students, the volunteer activities are focused on college prep and even entrepreneurship opportunities.  We are partial to them!

  • AVIDGet middle/high schoolers thinking and preparing for college, based on this socratic curriculum – 1-2  hours/week – Reach Robert Wack,
  • BUILDTogether with another mentor, lead a small group of high schoolers in developing and starting their own business – 1.5 hours/week, at 5:30pm – Reach Hillary Fernandes,
  • Be A MentorAttend a training class, and then mentor kids socially and academically – 1 hour/week – Reach Ryan Gray,

After all these options, are you still baffled?  Then reach the Oakland Schools’ Family & Community Office and ask for guidance.  Coordinator Risha Riley may be reached at: or 510-434-7765.

Or else stop by the Volunteer Faire tomorrow, anytime between 11am – 2pm.  All these school-related organizations will be represented there – and you can really find out what fits you best by chatting with volunteer leaders.

More info:  Volunteer Faire for Oakland operates like a volunteer “trade show,” and takes place at Oakland Main Library’s West Auditorium,  125 14th Street, Oakland, CA.  In addition, Oakland School Superintendent  Tony Smith will speak briefly at 11am, while Council Rep Jean Quan will present a City Council proclamation to the Volunteer Faire Coalition at noon.

Montclarions Put Oakland Schools First

Community action has reached the hills!  Lately, concerned Montclarions have begun “good works” under the Montclair Community Action Group banner, and everyone is welcome to join them.  Their first efforts are focused on working with Oakland public schools, as the most practical way to reach and help disadvantaged kids citywide.

Oakland School Supply

Donate Supplies For School Kids

The group’s inaugural effort, a School Supply Drive, will be held this Sunday, August 23rd.  You may drop off new school supplies or donate money at the Farmers Market, from 9am – 11am; or the Montclair Cultural Arts Center (aka Women’s Club, on Mountain Blvd), from 11am – 2pm.

Organizer Claudia Huttner explained how this drive came about:

The idea came out of a simple desire to create a community service event that would make a difference for kids and provide an opportunity for volunteers to participate, even if they have very full lives and not much extra time.

Many of us are looking for ways to bring change to our community, and it doesn’t have to be monumental or complicated.  Every gesture counts.  School supplies are a basic need for kids and the cost can really add up.  Donating supplies to under-resourced schools takes a little of the economic burden off of already over-burdened households.

The requested supplies fit local student needs well, and include backpacks (any colors except red or blue), pencils, colored pencils, pens, pencil boxes, rulers, erasers, lined notebooks and glue sticks.

On a practical note, these items will be delivered through the Faith Network of the East Bay.  Huttner said this network is “already in the schools supporting kids and families.  They work with some 30 schools in the East Bay, primarily in Oakland, and have a distribution network in place.  The people at Faith Network have been terrific and very supportive.”

Everyone seems hopeful that Montclarions will step up and contribute during this Sunday’s push.  The group has already managed to collect several bags’ worth of supplies plus $550 in cash donations.  Huttner and her fellow volunteers hope this drive will become an annual event, so that disadvantaged kids get on a more level playing field.

Volunteer An Hour Or Two Weekly

Additionally the Montclair Community Action Group has announced a citywide Volunteer Faire for the schools, scheduled for Saturday, September 12th.  Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Tony Smith will kick things off at 11am, at Oakland’s Main Library.  In a prepared statement, Smith declared that:

Strong schools arise not apart from the community, but spring from it through goodwill, hard work and unity of purpose. Volunteers play an essential role in not only filling gaps in the system, but in forging the essential bonds that allow school and community to grow in concert.

At this faire, potential volunteers may discuss and explore opportunities.  Risha Riley, of the Oakland School District’s Volunteer Office, will be on hand to represent volunteer gigs in all of the city schools.  There will also be representatives from Oakland libraries and at least 12 non-profits (see list), who support programs in our schools today.

Since the faire runs until 2pm Saturday, there should be enough time to consider roles such as teacher’s aide, library assistant, student mentor, financial literacy program participant, business & career coach, nutrition program participant, science coach, after school homework helper, playground monitor, or volunteer in school beautification, gardens and art projects.

Volunteering isn’t exactly a full-time occupation, you know.  Even if you only have an hour or two available weekly, the Oakland schools and students would benefit from your time.  According to organizer Carolyn Burd, “there’s an opportunity for everyone who may be interested in becoming a school volunteer.  Many of the organizations participating in the Faire have programs in under-served schools.”

It seems perfect, and we appreciate that Montclarions are doing the legwork.  All you have to do is show up, decide what looks interesting, and make a very minor commitment – and it’s guaranteed that some Oakland child will shine brighter from your attention.

More info:  Montclair Community Action GroupSchool Supply DriveVolunteer Faire