Mayor Schaaf, Oakland Leaders Launch Implementation of Universal Preschool Access

Mayor Libby Schaaf and Oakland education leaders

Link to video of press conference

Oakland, CA – Today city leaders launched the implementation of universal pre-school access for Oakland. For the first time in Oakland’s history, preschool will be accessible and affordable for all Oakland 3-and-4 year old children citywide within the decade, thanks to voter-approved Measure AA. Measure AA passed in 2018 with 62 percent of the vote, but was challenged in the courts. The City of Oakland defended the measure through a 3-year legal battle, ending in victory for Oakland’s children and families.

Measure AA, known as the Oakland Children’s Initiative, will also support college access for public school students, including scholarships, coaching and mentoring. Measure AA will invest almost $1 billion over the next 30 years for Oakland’s low-income students.

Recently, the Oakland Children’s Initiative Oversight Commission selected First Five Alameda County to be the first implementation partner for the preschool system, and Oakland Promise to implement college access for the next five years. First Five Alameda will receive $23 million and Oakland Promise will receive $11.5 million to start the process. At their recent meeting on December 6th, the Oakland City Council affirmed the selections with a unanimous vote of those present.

“By passing Measure AA, Oakland voters are ensuring a better future for all of our children,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “I’m thrilled that First Five Alameda County and The Oakland Promise will begin implementing Oakland’s first Universal Preschool and expanding College Access Support Systems for our brilliant children. Finally, we will be able to give every child born in Oakland access to quality preschool and cradle-to-career supports to get to and through college for the next 30 years. We must deliver on Oakland’s greatest promise – our children.”

Jorge Lerma, the Chair of the Children’s Initiative Citizen’s Oversight Commission which recommended the Partners said “If we are to have a privileged class and group of people, let it be the children - those who are furthest from the strongest currents of resources. If we want to stop homelessness and poverty, let us empower our families, children, and youth. Let us grace them with opportunity and resources that are culturally, gender, and ethnically relevant. Let us reimagine child and human development in Oakland and we can change the world.”

First 5 is a county-wide early childhood public agency which stewards State Proposition 10 funding to support early care and education for children 0-5. Their mission is to create an early childhood system of care in Alameda County that is responsive to the needs of caregivers and families with young children and improve their life outcomes. First 5 will use the funds from Measure AA to support the City’s mixed-delivery system including Oakland Head Start and Oakland Unified School District, which will make universal access to preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds from low-income backgrounds a reality within a decade.

“First 5 of Alameda County is honored and excited to be selected to administer Measure AA funds for the City of Oakland. First 5 will now assume the role of the contracted Early Education Implementation Partner. The essential role is one of a fiscal intermediary with program, policy, and administrative infrastructure,” said Kristin Spanos, CEO of First 5 Alameda County. “This is a great opportunity for children, families, and providers in Oakland, and we have a lot of exciting and hard work ahead of us to serve them.”

Oakland Promise is an Oakland-based non-profit with the vision of a thriving Oakland without barriers to educational opportunity. By providing Oakland students and families with scholarships from an early age and personalized college matriculation, persistence, and completion supports, Oakland Promise gets students to and through college. The Oakland Children’s Initiative will allow Oakland Promise and its partners to expand programming from birth through college graduation to thousands more Oakland youth every year.

“We are deeply honored at Oakland Promise for our selection by the City Council as the Children's Initiative College Access Implementation Partner,” said Oakland Promise CEO Sandra Ernst. “We are thrilled to engage in collaborative work with the school district and other CBOs deeply rooted in Oakland to deliver on the promise of ensuring the next generation of Oakland youth has the needed resources to succeed in their postsecondary options. We are grateful for your trust!”

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Posted: December 21st, 2022 2:44 PM

Last Updated: December 21st, 2022 2:48 PM

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