Linked Learning Campaign for Oakland’s High Schools


Lead: East Bay Asian Youth Center 

Key Partners: Oakland Community Organizations, Oakland Unified School District, and Alameda County Public Health Department

Project Location: Oakland, California – Municipal/County

Contact: Andrew Nelsen, Project Director for the Linked Learning Campaign, or (510) 533-1092 ext. 35

Project Description:

Research shows that educational attainment leads to higher incomes, increased access to health insurance, and higher health literacy, all of which contribute to lower morbidity and mortality rates. Higher educational attainment in one generation has a multi-generational effect on positive health outcomes. However, such opportunities are scarce for many youths in Oakland, Calif. The Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) graduation rate is 56 percent, compared to California’s statewide 76 percent rate. 

The East Bay Asian Youth Center and its partners will use their grant funding to fully implement Linked Learning, a high-school level educational approach that links learning with career preparation. The approach has been shown to boost graduation rates, increase college enrollments, and lead to higher earning potential. Linked Learning also shows promise in narrowing the achievement gap for students of color. The dropout rate among African-Americans in Oakland is about 55 percent, more than double the statewide rate.  To stem the tide, OUSD is emphasizing Linked Learning, calling for the placement of 80 percent of high school students in Linked Learning pathways by 2016. Linked Learning creates more opportunity and improves equity among students. It has the potential to help students who may never have imagined going to college excel in high school, discover new aspirations, and graduate with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in college and career.

This project is aimed at securing the resources needed to fully implement a Linked Learning approach in the school district. Currently, there is not a revenue stream for OUSD to meet its goal. Under the grant, the coalition will educate parents, students, educators, after-school providers, and employers; collaborate with the OUSD as it develops a plan for linked learning that serves 9,000 students; and analyze potential funding models to support the rollout of a full-scale Linked Learning program. The coalition will also document the impact and benefits of a district-wide Linked Learning plan and develop a longer-term, sustainable funding strategy.   

Matching funds for this grant will be provided by the James Irvine Foundation

Why this work is important:

  • Educational attainment leads to higher incomes, increased access to health insurance, and higher health literacy, which contributes to lower morbidity and mortality rates.

  • Linked Learning shows promise for narrowing the achievement gap for minority students.

  • Alameda County ranked well in the 2013 County Health Rankings; however, the city of Oakland is an outlier.

  • The Oakland Unified School District has a graduation rate of 55 percent, while the county as a whole has a high graduation rate of 81 percent.

Relevant Information from the 2014 County Health Rankings:

  • Alameda County ranked 20th out of 57 counties for health outcomes and ranked 20th for social and economic factors.

  • Alameda County’s unemployment rate was 9 percent—more than double the rate of top performing U.S. counties