Each year, the Oakland Public Education Fund connects hundreds of volunteers with Oakland schools to help tutor students, assist teachers, beautify campuses, and more.
The Education Fund is currently seeking volunteers for its back to school beautification week August 1-5. Volunteers will work three-hour shifts at a school to help teachers set up their classrooms, work in the school grounds, put up bulletin boards and other decorations, and more.
Beautification Week is just one of the annual events that Public Education Fund recruits volunteers for each year. Parents, guardians and community members are also encouraged to support OUSD schools for another five theme weeks during the school year.
Four of these weeks celebrate cultural heritage by inviting community members to read books with elementary school classes: Latinx Reading Week in October, African American Reading Week in February, LGBTQ+ Reading Week in March and Asia-Pacific American Reading Week. weekdays in May. Computer Education Week takes place in December, when volunteers working in industry are encouraged to talk to students about their careers or plan an interactive activity.
The organization also recruits members of the community to ongoing volunteer support, such as virtual or in-person tutoring, working in campus gardens, providing career coaching to high school students, and assisting teachers in classrooms. Those who speak languages other than English can also be helpful in OUSD Bilingual Schools.
Permanent guardians must commit to at least one hour per week at a school and must complete a background check, TB screening, and provide proof of COVID vaccination if volunteering in person.
School volunteers are essential at this time as many schools are facing staffing shortages and need support to help students catch up after the pandemic has disrupted education for the past two years.
“We got a lot of requests for support from schools that weren’t typical last year,” said Teresa Giacoman, who manages the school volunteer program for the Education Fund. “We need people who can be there during the supervised lunch hour, or we need support for the crossing guard situation.”
Last year, the organization had about 1,000 community members who signed up to volunteer and about 2,500 parent volunteers, and more were needed, Giacoman said. For those still hesitant to attend events in person, many volunteer opportunities are also virtual.
To register for a specific event such as Beautification Week, individuals can complete the online registration form and indicate which project interests you, and your availability during the week. Parents who want to volunteer at their child’s school can also register with the Oakland Public Education Fund. Parents are often needed to serve as chaperones or drivers for field trips, Giacoman added.
The Oakland Public Education Fund also provides orientation for all volunteers and training for those who will be tutors. Those interested in becoming a permanent volunteer can also register online and you will receive an email from the Oakland Public Education Fund to set up next steps and onboarding requirements.
“Students who see members of their community supporting their school community expose them to other caring adults and different types of people,” Giacoman said. “It lets them know that the people who live among them care about them and are invested in their education.”