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Evaluating Oakland Promise’s Cradle-to-Career Programs

An adult reads to a group of children
NORC’s assessments enable Oakland program to identify past benefits for future funding
  • Client
    Oakland Promise
  • Dates
    2019 - 2022

NORC is collaborating with Oakland Promise to understand the effects of their programs for promoting access to and completion of college for Oakland students. Oakland Promise is taking a “cradle-to-career” approach to providing Oakland’s children with the skills, resources, and aspirations to graduate from high school, complete college, and be successful in a career of their choice.

In additional to Brilliant Baby, Oakland Promise programs include: 

  • Kindergarten to College (K2C): The K2C initiative aims to lay the foundations for a college-going identity early by instilling a college-bound mindset in all kindergarten students and their families. In the short-term, K2C activities are designed to create a college-going culture in every participating elementary school, particularly in students and their parents. In the mid-term, the initiative aims to grow parents’ confidence in their ability to financially contribute to their child’s post-secondary education and help families financially prepare for college. Additionally, students’ academic achievement is expected to be on track and attendance improved. 
  • Future Centers (FC): The FC component of Oakland Promise seeks to develop students’ college-going identity and ensure that all students develop a college and career plan. The program includes a range of in-school and out-of-school supports and activities for students at each FC school, including career and college advising centers, push-in and pullout implementation of the FC Curriculum (i.e., college-going lessons and activities), family engagement events, field trips to local colleges and businesses, and other persistence-related supports. Additionally, FC advisors will support all seniors in applying for college, financial aid, scholarships, and high-leverage internships. 
  • College Scholarship and College Completion (CSC): This component of Oakland Promise uses advising, scholarships, mentoring, and a support network to support Oakland Unified School District students who matriculate to a post-secondary institution. These activities are designed to lead to higher college GPA, persistence, being on track to graduate, confidence in career skills, and a feeling of support on campus. The hypothesis is that participation in the program activities will support college graduation.

In 2017, NORC conducted retrospective evaluations of the K2C and FC programs. The evaluations explored impacts on short-term outcomes and helped Oakland Promise identify what they could learn from existing data and what would strengthen future evaluations of the programs. This work also contributed to the final designs of prospective evaluations of all three programs. Over time, the Promise aims to study the compounding effects of the programs on students’ development and outcomes through a longitudinal follow-up of the Brilliant Baby random controlled trial (RCT) conducted by NORC.

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