Originally published in San Fransisco Business Times.
By Chris Rauber
January 22, 2015
Thursday was a great day for East Bay philanthropy, with an Oakland school district and two Alameda County health care entities nabbing a total of $22.2 million in grants.
The Oakland Unified School District and the Alameda Health Care Services Agency won $12.2 million from Atlantic Philanthropies and the California Endowment to help students explore health care “career pathways,” which are said to boost graduation rates by 25 percent.
That funding, including $11 million from Atlantic Philanthropies, support’s the Linked Learning program and related efforts to help disadvantaged students get more exposure to “real world” technical skills, meatier academic offerings and work-based learning, officials said.
In a separate but related move, the Alameda Health System, which includes Highland Hospital in Oakland and other sites in the county, has been awarded $10 million in support, also from Atlantic Philanthropies.
Since its founding in 1982 by Chuck Feeney, the New York-based foundation has given away more than $6.5 billion. It’s probably best known in the Bay Area for its $125 million donation that got the philanthropic ball rolling for the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, set to open next week.
The joint grant to the Oakland school district will be used to more than double the number of students in health career programs, from 670 to 1,874, expand existing programs for middle-school students, and develop a public-private partnership to improve health education programs and improve health in economically deprived parts of Oakland.
Even though Alameda County is expected to benefit from 10,000 new health-related jobs in coming years, “too many students in Oakland are dropping out of high school or graduating without the necessary skills” to find work that pays a living wage, said Naomi Post, Atlantic Philanthropies’ head of U.S. community-based programs.
“It’s about removing barriers to learning and creating opportunities,” Post told me Thursday afternoon, noting that the Jan. 22 funding follows on earlier gifts designed to improve Oakland’s public schools.
Those earlier grants totaled roughly $12 million, she said. The funding announced this week “is building on that platform.”
The California Endowment, based in Los Angeles with a greater Bay Area office in Oakland, contributed $1.2 million over three years to the county’s Health Pipeline Partnership, which provides mentoring, leadership development, academic enrichment and “career exposure to disadvantaged and minority youth.” The group’s contribution is part of a $20 million statewide health workforce diversity initiative.
Alameda Health System, which called the three-year grant the largest in its history, will use the funding to develop training and internship programs to help poor children and young adults in Oakland learn about potential jobs and careers in the health care arena.
Daniel Boggan Jr., Alameda Health System’s interim CEO, said in a statement that the system will work with the Oakland Unified School District and the county’s health care services agency on those programs.
“We are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and educational opportunities at Highland Hospital and our Alameda County-based wellness centers,” Boggan added.
The health care system said it would use the new funds to expand existing internship programs for middle school, high school and college students, and to expand a program with Alameda County Health Care Services Agency to train emergency medical technicians.
Those funds will be administered by the Alameda Health System Foundation.