Oakland Kids First (OKF) has a long history of developing the leadership skills of youth in Oakland, CA, then supporting them to advance campaigns and advocate for improved educational equity, school climate, and academic support for low-income students of color in Oakland Unified School District.
The timeline below includes OKF’s major campaign wins:
2020: OAKLAND YOUTH VOTE – MEASURE QQ WIN
- Youth Organizing Council (YOC) leaders partnered with Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan to research, co-author and introduce legislation to lower the voting age to include 16 and 17 year old voters in School Board Elections. In May 2020, Oakland City Council unanimously voted in approval of Oakland Youth Vote, and advanced it to a public vote as Measure QQ in the November 2020 election. Measure QQ passed with 67% of Oakland voters voting Yes on QQ.
2019: FREE SUPPER FOR HUNGRY MINDS WIN
- YOC and REAL HARD leaders worked together to reinstate the free supper program when it was cut due to a budget crisis in OUSD. Youth presented at school board meetings with concerns that cutting a program for 3,700 low-income youth who are food insecure could be detrimental to students’ ability to engage or learn at school. OKF launched a Free Supper for Hungry Minds campaign, and won a $250,000 commitment from OUSD to continue the program while also securing $3.6 million from a new tax on soda and sweetened beverages from Oakland City Council. Free Supper for Hungry Minds expanded supper from 32 sites to 52 schools, and OUSD committed to provide nutritional services for thousands of additional students.
2019: YOUTH LEADERSHIP DURING OUSD TEACHER STRIKE
- OKF youth leaders across programs organized their peers to stand in solidarity with Oakland teachers who went on strike for better pay and improved learning conditions. Youth leaders spoke at public OEA marches and rallies, and negotiated with OEA leadership to integrate student priorities into their bargaining agreements. They mobilized with several hundred Oakland students in the aftermath of the strike to maintain funding for Restorative Justice, Foster Care case managers, and the APISA program.
2018: LAUNCH OF YOUTH ORGANIZING COUNCIL
- Youth Organizing Council (YOC) established to convene 15 youth and program alumni for training and youth organizing focused on district or citywide campaigns. YOC provides training for young people to analyze and solve regional challenges using data and peer input, and then advance innovative solutions or policies to increase educational equity.
2017: STUDENT MOBILIZATION AGAINST OUSD BUDGET CUTS
- J4OS and OKF youth leaders partnered together to rally against proposed district budget cuts and preserve resources for students at their schools.
2017: LAUNCH OF JUSTICE FOR OAKLAND STUDENTS (J4OS)
- OKF established the Justice for Oakland Students (J4OS) Coalition and served as fiscal sponsor until December 2020. J4OS is a multi-racial, intergenerational coalition formed to create a movement-building vehicle for educational justice in Oakland that centers the most impacted and marginalized students and parents, and aggregates the collective power of community-based organizing and labor unions – to hold the district accountable to real equity and justice for all high-need students.
2017-PRESENT: CASTLEMONT HIGH SCHOOL LEAD AGENCY
- OKF was selected to serve as the Lead Agency of Castlemont High School in East Oakland in order to provide after school programs as well as college, career, and community readiness activities.
2014-2016: MEANINGFUL STUDENT AND FAMILY ENGAGEMENT
- OKF launched a Meaningful Student and Family Engagement (MSFE) Initiative to support students and their families to use school and district data in order to provide input on annual school site plans, use of Measure N funds, and LCAP plans and budgets. The MSFE Initiative had a goal of increasing educational equity by lifting the needs, priorities, and solutions from students who are most impacted by school plans and budgeting decisions.
2015: CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS COURSE
- Oakland Kids First created the leadership course “Civic Engagement and Social Movements,” which incorporates PASS-2 mentor preparation into the school day. The course received A-G approval by OUSD, becoming the first ever leadership class that allows students to receive “G” elective credit while contributing to the academic success of mentors and their 9th grade peers.
2013-PRESENT: REAL HARD CODE OF RESPECT CAMPAIGNS
- REAL HARD youth leaders researched, developed and expanded Code of Respect Campaigns to four high schools. Leaders continue to align their school’s Code of Respect with teacher training, school stores, best classroom practices, and cultural currency utilized by teachers and students.
2009: A-G POLICY PASSED
- OKF partnered with the district MSE Collaborative to align OUSD’s graduation requirements with the UC/CSU system’s college entrance course requirements to ensure that all high school student graduates in Oakland would have the option to attend a college or university.
2008: MEASURE OO: OFCY REVENUE INCREASE TO 3%
- The Kids First! 2 Coalition, made up of youth leaders and other community organizations, successfully led a campaign to increase the annual set aside of city revenue from 2.5% to 3% for distribution through Oakland Fund for Children and Youth (OFCY) through Ballot Measure OO.
2005-2014: PASS-2 PROGRAM EXPANSION
- PASS-2 expanded to multiple comprehensive high schools to offer both mentor training and 9th grade academic support workshops. Alumni PASS-2 mentors facilitated workshops for middle school students to prepare them to transition into high school with the information they would need to succeed.
2005-2007: MSE COLLABORATIVE AND STANDARDS ESTABLISHED
- OKF partnered with a coalition of student groups and youth engagement community based organizations to successfully advocate for the establishment of a Meaningful Student Engagement (MSE) Collaborative in OUSD, now housed in the Office of Student, Family & Community Engagement. MSE included OUSD Departments of African-American Male Achievement, Health and Wellness, After School Programs, and over 15 youth-serving community organizations. MSE works together to improve student leadership and establish meaningful civic engagement, In 2007, OKF worked with MSE for district adoption of the “MSE Standards Policy.”
2005: CREATION OF PEER COUNSELING PASS-2 PROGRAM
- REAL HARD youth organizers identified the 600:1 counselor to student ratio in Oakland schools as a barrier for students to receive academic information to graduate from high school on time and access postsecondary opportunities. Youth developed a peer mentoring program, Peers Advising Students to Succeed (PASS-2), to provide training for mentors to facilitate workshops that share information to all 9th grade students.
2003: STUDENT POWER RESOLUTION
- OKF drafted the Student Power Resolution to re-define the role of student government representatives for high schools as part of a broader Student Power Campaign. OKF worked with OUSD board members to develop a district-wide Resolution to reform the structure and develop role descriptions for students in leadership class, but California took over OUSD before the board was able to vote on the Resolution.
2002: STUDENT VOICES COUNT REPORT
- REAL HARD organizers collected and analyzed data, then released a Student Voices Count report, or blueprint of youth created policy recommendations to address the findings of over 1,000 Student Report Cards. The report covered issues of authentic student representation in schools, lack of counseling services, and student evaluation of teachers. This report guided OKF’s work for the next 3 years and led to adoption of a Student Power Campaign to increase meaningful student engagement and decision-making within OUSD.
2002: OKF INCORPORATED AS A 501(c)(3) NONPROFIT
- Oakland Kids First officially changed names from Kids First! Coalition to Oakland Kids First and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
2001: YOUTH BUS CAMPAIGN
- Youth organizers led the Youth Bus Campaign to provide free bus passes for all Oakland middle and high students, benefitting 34,000 low-income youth in 16 school districts throughout the AC Transit service area. The Youth Bus Campaign reduced the price of the monthly youth bus pass almost in half from $27 to $15 after REAL HARD organizers identified that paying for transportation to attend school and participate in after school programs was a financial barrier for low-income students and their families.
2001: REDUCE OAKLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT (OPD) IN SCHOOLS
- OPD Out of Schools Campaign effort was led by youth to reduce Oakland police presence in public schools with a goal of improving school culture and climate, reducing punitive discipline practices, and increasing student sense of safety at school.
1996: PASSING OF KIDS FIRST! INITIATIVE
- Oakland Kids First was formed as a community coalition advocating for the passing of Measure K: Kids First! Initiative. Measure K: Kids First! passed to set aside 2.5% of city funding for youth programs and services in Oakland, CA – now known as the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth (OFCY). From 1996- 2003, OKF was fiscally sponsored by the East Bay Asian Youth Center.