The Challenge:

Oakland’s immigrant students come to the United States seeking an “American Dream.” They hope to work hard in school, pursue higher education, and find better economic prospects for their families.  However, the American Dream these students seek is not accessible on an equitable basis.

Cultural barriers and financial realities make it a struggle for many immigrant high school students to graduate from high school and access higher education.  English Learners in Oakland face a sizeable achievement gap in comparison to their native English-speaking peers:

  • Graduation Rates: Just 57% of English Learners in the Oakland Unified School District’s Class of 2018 graduated from high school on time (74% among all OUSD students).
  • Attendance: 48% of English Learners in OUSD high schools had significant gaps in school attendance in 2018 (38% among all OUSD HS students).

While Oakland’s immigrant students and families are highly motivated to receive a rigorous education, two primary factors prevent these students from reaching their full potential:

  • Cultural Barriers: Students and family members who grew up in another countries and are learning a new language struggle to access the opportunities available in high schools with thousands of students.  
  • Financial stress: Desperate financial circumstances often force our immigrant youth to drop out of high school to  work and support their families. Those who stay in school often abandon their dreams of higher education because of financial concerns.  

Our Solution:

Promising Paths is a group of educators and community members dedicated to supporting the success of Oakland’s immigrant youth.

We recruit and train volunteer first-generation college graduates who are now high-achieving professionals in the Bay Area to serve as mentors to a team of 3-5 immigrant high school students.  

Our mentors provide individualized support to immigrant high school students including academic assistance, access to mental health resources, and attendance intervention.

Each student who completes our mentoring program with 4+ semesters in good standing as a Promising Paths Scholar receives a $2,000 scholarship towards future educational expenses.