Roses in Concrete Community School

LOCATION: Oakland, California, USA

SUMMARY: End urban poverty through education by positioning school as the center of health in a community. Reverse the model of “out-migration" of young talent by making investments in the most vulnerable urban youth and families, creating a return pathway for youth to return home to help make their communities thrive.

PROBLEM SPACE: "We are losing entire generations of urban youth who feel trapped in a cycle of poverty, violence, hopelessness and despair." Rather than continually investing in models that try to save the “deserving few" who can escape from these communities, we propose a solution that allows the vast majority to overcome these toxic conditions and become the responsible and productive adults who will eliminate those conditions. By creating a sustainable community, centered around a school that gives students and families love, security, nourishment, care, and education, we offer a model of success and revitalization that reverses decades of disinvestment.

The point of education is not to escape poverty - it is to end poverty. We can do this by cultivating urban youth who understand the importance of returning to vulnerable communities to invest and serve as community leaders. By partnering with community partners and institutions of higher learning that have traditionally worked in silos, we can collaborate synergistically to bust up the concrete. Instead of replicating models that pluck out the individual roses that manage to grow between the cracks in the concrete, our model breaks up the concrete so that entire rose gardens can blossom in our highest need neighborhoods."

SOLUTION: "Our K-8 charter/lab school pilot will serve 360 children from East Oakland, one of the nation's most impoverished communities.

HOW: Based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, our community-responsive model of urban education treats the school as a center of health in the community, prioritizing the most basic human needs before 'teaching.' We collaborate with community partners, foundations and research universities to provide Resources, then Relationships, Relevancy, Rigor and Responsibility.

Our lab school:

- Develops robust partnerships with community partners, foundations and research universities to offer secure on-site access to food, clothing, shelter, physical and psychological safety, medical care, etc. for students and their families.
- Offers culturally-responsive teaching practices, looping, critical pedagogy, differentiated instruction and transformative school leadership.
- Provides a permanent source of multi-year apprenticeships to create a pipeline of exceptionally well-trained urban school administrators and teachers, with an emphasis on candidates of color.
- Provides adult mentors/teachers who "loop" with the child through multiple grades to understand each child and family, and model living as Warrior-Scholars who are responsible to self, family, community and world. The goal is to cultivate a pipeline of youth that go away to college and come back to help our most vulnerable communities."

CONTACT: [email protected]

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