Announcing 2017-18 Teacher Retention Grantees

Oakland faces a challenging teacher shortage that we must address to improve educational outcomes for children across the 78 square miles of this city. One of the best ways to address the shortage is by increasing teacher retention—if we keep more of our great teachers in Oakland classrooms, we will dramatically reduce the number of hires we need to make each year. Keeping teachers provides stability for our students and saves thousands of dollars in replacement costs[1].

We are continuing to focus on – and provide funding for– teacher retention strategies because we know great teachers are essential to student success. As a city, we must get better at supporting and retaining our best teachers. We must help every school be a professional environment where great teachers choose to stay. Our Teacher Advisory Group, citywide teacher survey, and retention grants put Oakland teachers in the driver’s seat to identify gaps and implement solutions, because  research shows that engaging educators at the school level can increase teacher retention[2] and even lead to ideas for broader system-wide fixes.

We are thrilled today to announce the 2017-18 Educate78 Oakland Teacher Retention Grant winners! Last year, we launched our Oakland Teacher Retention Grant Program, awarding $125,000 to 12 teacher-led teams across the City. These grants empower teachers to change the conditions at their school that are preventing teachers like themselves from staying. Oakland teachers know best what is needed in their schools to improve teacher success and retention. We did a video report out on their experiences. We also worked with our Teacher Advisory Group to delve into what worked and what we could build on for the second year.

Here is what we learned from 2016-17 retention grants:

  • Identify root causes, and do what is doable: Teacher retention is affected by many factors – some of which are systemic and community-wide. Grant teams identified root causes that they could change at their individual school, and ideas that could be tested in one year.
  • Prioritize it: Launching something new requires many team members to take on new work. Successful grant teams made teacher retention a top priority for the year, and saw this work as critical to achieving their school-wide goals – not just “nice to have.”
  • Measure early and often:  Successful grant teams planned how they would measure success over the year, including surveys, interviews, observations. With this feedback, they made course corrections during the year, even before year-end retention data was available.

For 2017-18, we have increased our total funding for Teacher Retention Grants to $150,000! We are thrilled to award grants to five second-year grant teams, eight first-year grant teams, and five individual teachers. Check out the complete map of all 18 recipients here or click on the inset. We noticed some themes in this year’s applications, which highlight our teachers’ needs:

  • More requests for basic needs: Likely driven by OUSD’s spring budget cuts, we received many retention grant proposals for basic materials and resources. We know from our Citywide Teacher Engagement Survey that “basic needs” are foundational to teacher engagement and retention.
  • Continued requests for more student supports around social and emotional learning: Similar to our first round of grant awards, many teams sought to provide more training for teachers, staffing for student’s socio-emotional needs (e.g., counselor, behavioral specialist), or both.
  • Commitment to teacher professional learning: Many schools want more high quality professional development, time for collaboration, and access to outside expertise.
  • Worry about burnout: Schools that have ambitious goals for student growth know also need teaching to be sustainable over time. Some retention grants will establish new practices or provide tools for teams and their school culture.

The teacher shortage will continue to be a major challenge for Oakland’s public schools. There are myriad and complex reasons for this. As a city, we must think bigger, bolder, and more creatively about what it takes to get and keep great teachers in our classrooms. We’re putting resources in educators’ hands to implement solutions that schools’ need now, while we collectively work on system-wide changes. We look forward to working with our new cohort of retention grantees and sharing their work as the year progresses.

[1] Learning Policy Institute: Teacher Turnover: Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It, August 2017. Accessed from:

[2] TNTP, Greenhouse Schools, 2012. Accessed here:

2nd Annual Teacher Engagement Survey Results

Every year the month of May is reserved for Teacher Appreciation. And, to close it out strong, we hosted an Educate78 Supply Closet at the Oakland Public Education Fund’s outstanding Teacher Appreciation Party. The Educate78 Supply Closet was set up to give away classroom supplies to hundreds of Oakland public school teachers. In this small way, we hope to reduce the need for teachers to pay for basic classroom materials out of their own pocket.

It was a great night!  Like many in public education, for us at Educate78 appreciating teachers is a year-round affair

The Gallup survey uses a Maslow-esque hierarchy. Check out the questions for each area.

Our Annual Citywide Teacher Survey is another way we strive to support teachers. This survey informs citywide and site-level discussions about teacher retention and how to keep the excellent talent here in Oakland.

Spring 2017 marked the second year that our Teacher Advisory Group used the Gallup employee engagement survey to evaluate Oakland public school teacher satisfaction.

This year we saw a nearly 15% increase in the number of responses over last year, with a total of 572 teachers taking the survey from February to April 2017.

The 2017 survey shows a slight increase in teacher satisfaction over last year. And, our teachers remain more engaged than teachers nationally. Our citywide sample score of 3.87 (on a scale of 1-5) places Oakland teachers in the 36th percentile of all organizations in Gallup’s database, an increase of 2 percentile points from last year. Oakland teachers surveyed are “more engaged” than teachers surveyed nationwide by Gallup (38% in Oakland vs 30% nationally).

In terms of specific needs, Oakland teachers ranked opportunities for growth and development the highest and access to basic needs the lowest. This is consistent with results from last year.

In other words, Oakland teachers find their work fulfilling. But, they feel stymied by basic needs not being met. These basic needs include: classroom supplies, curriculum materials, and heating in their classrooms. These results are worrisome – and the survey was taken before the OUSD instituted its spending reduction measures. We worry what next year’s results will say, especially as the #OUSDBudget woes show every sign of worsening. Kudos to the school leaders across the city who are doing their best with limited resources to create healthy and nurturing working conditions for their teachers

We had additional questions about how long our teachers anticipated staying in Oakland. So, we went beyond the standard Gallup questions to learn more. 76% of respondents are planning to teach in Oakland in the ’17-’18 school year. This is good news for this coming year! But, only 56% are planning to teach in Oakland three years from now.

It is critical to ensure that the 56% stay committed to teaching in Oakland and to create the conditions that will sway the 33% that stated they were unsure to stay.

One way Educate78 is directly working to create these conditions is through Oakland teacher retention grants. In the ’16-’17 school year, we supported twelve pilot teacher retention projects. Want to see what Oakland teachers have been working on? Check out this video for highlights. Keep an eye out- we will announce the ’17-’18 grant winners soon!

One of the great resources for Oakland teachers is a community of organizations that work to support our public school teachers:

Next year, school budgets will continue to be tight, and OEA and OUSD will continue contract negotiations. Through it all, we know that recruiting and retaining the best teachers is one of the most important things we can do for our children. We hope that individuals and organizations across the city will join us in making every day and every month about teacher appreciation!

What will you do to appreciate our teachers and ensure they have what they need to stay teaching in Oakland?

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The Heart of our Community and Schools: A look ahead for the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group

The Heart of our Community and Schools:

A look ahead for the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group

All of us at Educate78 believe that teachers are the heart of our community and schools. We know that in world-class schools, teachers are honored and well-supported. We want all Oakland schools to be places in which teachers thrive, both personally and professionally.

This is why we created our Teacher Advisory Group; to ensure Educate78’s work to support Oakland teachers is informed directly by teachers themselves.

Over the coming weeks, Educate78’s Teacher Advisory Group will be sharing the fruits of its work in the first half of 2016. A report on a Citywide Teacher Engagement Survey will provide new insights for keeping Oakland teachers satisfied and teaching in our community. And we’ll announce the teams of teachers who will receive grants to pilot teacher retention ideas in their schools, as part of our Educator Retention Grant Program.

Oakland has incredibly talented and dedicated teachers, and we feel privileged to collaborate with so many committed, insightful and creative educators to increase teacher retention in Oakland schools.

Stay tuned!

The Educate78 Team

Oakland School Sponsors 5 Students for Prom by Taking City-Wide Survey

Ralph J. Bunche High School teacher, Sean Gleason and his teacher colleagues, all took the Oakland City-Wide Teacher Survey and earned a donation for their school.

How they’d put the donation to use? They sponsored 5 students by buying their tickets to Prom.

One example of the amazing things Oakland teachers do for Oakland students every day.

Take the City-Wide Teacher Survey & Receive a Donation for Your School!

Introducing the Black Teacher Project

Sara Solar Introduces Educate78 Partnership

with the Black Teacher Project

At Educate78 we are honored to partner with families, educators, and leaders across Oakland who are working to ensure every Oakland student across all 78 square miles and in every neighborhood has access to great schools. We believe that to fulfill our mission of great schools for all of our students, Oakland must become a city that attracts, grows, and retains exceptional educators, especially in our highest-need schools.

We’re investing in projects that elevate educators’ voices across the city in problem-solving and solution-generation, that support high-quality leadership and development opportunities for educators, and that seek to retain an effective, diverse and representative educator force in Oakland.

Learn more about our work

We are thrilled to launch a partnership this Spring with a new organization called the Black Teacher Project, who, through a combination of programming and research, seeks to identify successful strategies for developing and retaining highly effective Black educators in Oakland schools. Research has demonstrated positive effects for students of color having teachers of the same racial background and has also demonstrated that teachers of color reduce stereotypes and increase cross-cultural understanding in all students.

Kareem Weaver, of the Oakland Alliance for Black Educators and Executive Director of New Leaders Bay Area reflects: “Never has there been so much time structured for collaboration and, yet, there remains a nagging disconnection between adults. The Black Teacher Project is attempting to unearth, understand, and address the needs of Black teachers – in order to better serve students. The organization is to be commended for its clarity of mission and willingness to ask tough questions in search of truth and next steps.”

I’m thrilled to introduce, Micia Mosely, the founder of the Black Teacher Project, to tell you more about their work and launch in Oakland this year.

From the Black Teacher Project founder, Micia Mosely Ph.D.

I founded the Black Teacher Project in 2015 to address a lifelong passion and pursuit of mine: to support Black people in the United States in becoming and remaining the best teachers we can be.

I moved to the Bay Area to teach high school over 20 years ago and left the classroom after just a few years. I always pictured myself as the kind of teacher that would be in the classroom long enough to teach my students kids’ and be a strong presence in my community. I knew my departure was a mix of systemic, political and professional factors that were connected to my Blackness. I wanted to learn more and support more Black people to become teachers and stay in the classroom, consistently gaining mastery of teaching while remaining healthy whole human beings. That led me to earn my Ph.D. in Education at U.C. Berkeley and write my dissertation on the roles and experiences of Black teachers in multi-racial settings. I then worked with BayCES (now National Equity Project) to support the creation of small schools in Oakland. I went on to work with organizations like the Posse Foundation and the Urban Teaching Corps which helped me gain a national perspective of what it takes for Black people to become and remain teachers in this country. Since returning to the Bay to support teachers locally I have been able to work with a former Black student of mine who has become a teacher. Working with her inspired me to develop this project. You can read more about that story in The Black Teacher Project’s collection of #MyBlackTeacher stories.

The Need

Black people comprise approximately 12 percent of the population of the United States. Black teachers comprise 7 percent of teachers in this country, with many teaching mostly Black and Latino students. In Oakland, Black students make up about a quarter of our public school population, and Black teachers make up about a fifth of Oakland teachers. Our vision is that all children will have access to a well-prepared, effective teaching force that includes a proportionate number of Black teachers. Our premise is that Black educators offer indispensable insights into the lived realities of navigating schooling institutions, as well as into the social structures of the United States. Therefore, every young person, regardless of racial or ethnic identity, can benefit from the influence of highly effective Black teachers in their life. Our mission is to develop, sustain, and retain excellent Black teachers and support the recruiting of new Black teachers for schools across Oakland and eventually across the country.

The role of Black teachers in schools is complex. Research has demonstrated the positive effects on students of color from having teachers of the same racial background. We also know that Black teachers are often asked to play roles, often unspoken, due to their race/ethnicity, which can impact their effectiveness and decision to continue teaching. For example, our initial research uncovered an expectation that Black teachers are inherently able to address the needs of all Black students and another that they will be a bridge between the school and community. Without the specific preparation and training to play these roles effectively, these affinity-based expectations can increase Black teachers’ loads and burnout. The Black Teacher Project focuses on the affinity-specific expectations of Black teachers in a variety of contexts and identifies strategies to support Black teachers’ effectiveness in the many different roles they play.

We believe that it is also important for non-Black students to have the experience of learning from Black adults. Given the small proportion of Black teachers in the US, we know that many non-Black people (including Latino/as, Asians, Native American and mixed race people, as well as, Whites) don’t get to learn with Black teachers during their K-12 experiences. Our work is about helping people have personal relationships with Black teachers, and it is also about supporting Black people in a position of sanctioned expertise. While Barack Obama’s election didn’t end racism, it did help many people (Black and non-Black) see Black people in a position of expertise, leadership and power. We believe this view is critical to combat centuries of Black people being seen as less capable often as a result of the limited portrayals of Black people in the media.

What We’ll Do

The Black Teacher Project supports individuals in being excellent Black teachers, by valuing the intersectionality of all identities in multiple contexts. We are not encouraging teachers to perform a particular kind of Blackness or supporting individuals simply because of their racial identity. Our work is aimed at encouraging individuals to embrace and embody Black excellence that is authentic to who they are and in ways that serve their students. Affinity-based groups have allowed teachers to address more specific issues in serving their students. Our research indicates that teachers who are able to have open dialogue about how their race impacts their practice have been able to engage in culturally responsive pedagogy from a more grounded and sustainable place. By engaging in this kind of affinity-based practice non-Black teachers will benefit from having colleagues who can articulate and respond to traditionally implicit expectations thereby thriving in their positions while providing a model for sustainable practice.

We are launching efforts focused first on understanding teachers’ experiences and what’s driving their satisfaction and retention in order to provide responsive professional development, community building, and leadership training to retain our highly effective Black teachers in Oakland. We will also seek to learn from current and past recruitment efforts and see where there might be opportunities to support and add to those efforts in the future. This spring we’ll launch a few events below and spend a lot of time talking with teachers and those working with teachers to inform our programming and research next school year in the following areas:


We offer affinity-based and context responsive professional development for Black teachers. For example, we will focus on culturally responsive teaching as it relates to the cultures of Black teachers responding to Black and non-Black students. In honor of Women’s History Month, we are partnering with Black Female Project to host a conversation with Black Female Teachers about how they navigate structural racism and sexism in the classroom and beyond. You can find out more information by clicking here.

Sustainability and Retention

Research and development allows us to understand what is necessary to sustain excellent Black teachers in classrooms and schools. Too often teachers burnout, leave the classroom to take on administrative duties, or to work in education outside of a teaching context. As we support retention, our aim is to ensure that Black teachers not only stay in the classroom, but also are also able to sustain themselves as healthy human beings. Our preliminary research supports the importance of networking activities and developing our wellness program to increase Black teacher retention and sustainability. This June 16-18, 2016 we will hold our Inaugural Black Teacher Leadership & Sustainability Institute in Oakland. Registration will open on April 1st. Check our website for updates.


Right now, our recruitment initiatives are limited in scope as we ramp up capacity. We know that lifting up the impact that Black teachers have can increase our profile and make the profession more appealing. In February we celebrated Black History Month by collecting stories about the impact of Black teachers on people’s lives. Even though February has ended, we hope that many more people will share their stories. Because we believe that all children deserve a Black teacher, we encourage everyone who has had a Black teacher to submit their stories through our site,

As someone who has lived in Oakland for almost 20 years, I am excited to support my community in improving teacher practice and retention. I know the issues facing our teachers are complex and it will take multiple initiatives to transform the experiences of everyone involved in education in Oakland. I hope educators across race will get and stay involved with The Black Teacher Project. Sign up for our newsletter here and find out how you can support Black teachers in Oakland.

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