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Oakland Students Tell Their Linked Learning Stories

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Oct 14, 2014

One of the many reasons we are excited about Linked Learning is because it ignites students’ passions by creating meaningful learning experiences in career-oriented pathways. Linked Learning is showing that when students love what they’re learning, they work harder, dream bigger, and learn more.

New public service announcements released today by Oakland Unified School District are a great example. They tell the story of Linked Learning in Oakland, and were produced by students in the Digital Media Arts Pathway, working with the district’s partners at Media Enterprise Alliance.

I encourage you to watch the two-minute video embedded below. Oakland Unified posted about a dozen short PSAs today, showing students in different career pathways. You can view all of those videos here. Check them out! I think you’ll be impressed.


New Look, New Location

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Apr 20, 2013 4

I am pleased to share two exciting developments for us at The James Irvine Foundation.

First, effective today, we relocated our San Francisco headquarters to a new home in downtown San Francisco. We have moved across the street from our former location at 575 Market Street to One Bush Street, at the intersection of Market and First streets. This relocation was motivated by several factors. We wanted to secure a long-term lease during a time of steadily increasing rental rates and decreasing inventory in the San Francisco commercial marketplace. In addition, this move will enable us to consolidate our San Francisco staff onto a single floor (the 8th floor at One Bush) as opposed to being spread out across two floors, thereby creating more opportunities for internal collaboration as well as operational efficiency.

Our new building, the Crown-Zellerbach Building, is an historic 1959 building that was the first significant downtown structure erected after the Great Depression. It has historic landmark status and is recognized as an environmentally friendly building. The new office remains centrally located, which was a key priority for us, so our visitors will still be able to use all forms of public transportation to reach us (our location provides convenient access by BART to both the Oakland and San Francisco airports).

Tags: Bay Area

ArtPlace Honors Oakland

BY Ted Russell
Ted Russell
Ted Russell has been with Irvine since 2005 and helps oversee many of the Founda
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| Jan 29, 2013

Last week, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan joined ArtPlace director Carol Coletta in touring the Oakland neighborhood that was designated one of America's Top 12 ArtPlaces. As she announced the award at the press conference, Carol made the point of saying this award was data-based and in fact entirely statistical. Since it’s not biased or subjective, the selection carries even more weight for many in the Oakland community.

Mayor Quan proudly accepted the award on behalf of the city that has become, in her words, "cooler than San Francisco!" And she emphatically credited a public-private-nonprofit partnership for the incredible turnaround of several depressed neighborhoods ranging from Old Oakland to Uptown. It's clear that the vibrancy brought to the areas by the emergence of arts nonprofits, in conjunction with for-profits, had economic and human impacts.

ArtPlace, an initiative of national and regional foundations, federal agencies and major banks to accelerate creative placemaking, identified the top ArtPlaces in the nation’s largest U.S. metropolitan areas. An array of data and other factors were considered in selecting the neighborhoods, which were successful at combining art, artists and venues for creativity and expression with independent businesses, retail shops and restaurants, and a walkable lifestyle to make vibrant neighborhoods. Other California neighborhoods that joined Oakland in the Top 12 were San Francisco's Mission District and Central Hollywood in Los Angeles.


San Francisco Chronicle: Linking Courses to Careers Improves Grad Rates

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Jul 25, 2010

When Cynthia Gutierrez arrived four years ago at Skyline High School in Oakland, she was neither an academic superstar nor someone who struggled with school. Like most kids, she says, she was "somewhere in the middle." Bored with her classes, she'd left behind a trail of C's and D's, and with some bad luck, she might have even lost interest in school altogether. "I didn't know what I was doing," she says.

Instead, Gutierrez had a stroke of good fortune. During her freshman year, a teacher told her about Skyline's education academy, a small school within the school centered around careers in education. When she heard the program included regular field trips, she signed up. Gutierrez and 25 of her classmates spent the next three years taking classes together on education-related topics like child development and how people learn, combining a rigorous college-prep curriculum with student-teaching trips to local elementary schools. In the close-knit environment of the academy, Gutierrez found new motivation, and she discovered a love of teaching.

"Before, I couldn't really connect with my teachers all that well," she says. "But in the academy, it was different." Gutierrez's grades improved, even with a more demanding course load that qualified her for admission to the state university system. Her teachers say she blossomed into a leader. And in June, she earned something that far too many of California's young people do not: a high school diploma.

Students like Gutierrez are far from the exception in California's public schools, but they aren't nearly as much of the rule as California needs. Over the past 10 years, while graduation rates at high schools across the country have been climbing, many of California's high schools have gotten worse. One out of 3 students in our state still doesn't graduate from high school, severely limiting career options - and sending negative consequences rippling across the state's economy. Barely a third of those who do, meanwhile, are considered "college ready." For students of color and those from low-income households, these numbers are even worse, but for years, education experts have been struggling to find a way to close this widening achievement gap.

Pioneering Oakland Program Builds ‘Safe Passages’ for Urban Youth

BY Alex Barnum
Alex Barnum
Alex Barnum was a Communications Officer at The James Irvine Foundation from 200
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| Sep 22, 2009
Andrea was worried about her teenaged son, Jorge. The older cousins he admired were dropping out of school and sporting gang tattoos. One of his middle school classmates had shot another student on the street outside their east Oakland campus. And Jorge himself was beginning to rebel against his mother’s custom of walking him to school each morning.

“He thought he knew it all,” Andrea said.

Josefina Alvarado Mena, executive director of Safe Passages and recipient of a 2009 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award

Then one of Jorge’s teachers invited him to enroll in a special Saturday class focused on gangs. The class took field trips to San Quentin, met with professional men of color, discussed educational disparities and talked openly about the difficulties young boys face growing up in rough urban neighborhoods. After several months, Andrea said, Jorge was a different kid. He lectured his younger sister about staying away from gangs and drugs. He seemed happy for his mother to walk him to school.

Jorge has benefited from an innovative partnership that seeks to mitigate the impact violence has on Oakland’s children. The partnership, called Safe Passages, brings together more than 65 local agencies in Alameda County – among them two school districts, the county and the city of Oakland – to share responsibility for providing services to vulnerable populations of children and youth.



Irvine Publications


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