Ensuring College Affordability for Oakland Students

Out of every 100 students who start the 9th grade in Oakland, only 15 will complete a postsecondary education within five years of high school graduation. The community-driven nonprofit Oakland Promise is working to change these statistics. The Mayor’s Office, in partnership with Oakland Promise, hired FUSE executive fellow Patrice Berry to examine college affordability as one barrier to postsecondary education. She addressed training and education for counselors and advisors, holding 10 workshops that helped them gain access to key information and resources which, in turn, make it easier for them to guide students and families. The counselor to student ratio in Oakland is roughly 600 to 1, so innovation in communication among counselors, students, and families was also critical. Patrice helped establish a text-messaging platform for direct communications at scale and created three guides — for students, parents, and practitioners — that detail how to prepare for postsecondary education. Patrice is continuing her work with the Mayor’s Office and Oakland Promise, focusing on innovations and technology that can empower young adults and give them access to the resources they need to prepare for life after high school. She is also helping facilitate partnerships with local, state, and national legislators and advocates to identify and address barriers to attaining a postsecondary education.