Mayor Schaaf and Community Partners Expand Innovative Affordable Housing Pilot to Recruit and Retain Teachers of Color in Oakland
Mayor Libby Schaaf, OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell, non-profit Community Development Finance and DGI announced the expansion of the Teachers Rooted in Oakland (TRiO) pilot, along with a new location that will offer to house Oakland educators taking part in the program this year. In addition to adding additional housing options, they also announced TRiO’s first corporate donation from Bank of America, which committed a $1 million multi-year grant to help double the number of teachers in the program and teacher residents for Oakland schools.
The goal of TRiO is to increase recruitment and retention of Black and other teachers of color who specialize in hard-to-staff subject areas, such as STEM and Special Education. The TRiO pilot began with 12 teachers and teacher residents in 2020. It has now expanded to provide affordable housing and housing stipends for 18 new teacher residents, and continues to support 12 teachers with monthly guaranteed income stipends, for a total of 30 teachers and teacher residents this year. Those 30 teachers, who are rooted in Oakland with housing security provided through the TRiO program, reach and teach an estimated 4,000 Oakland students.
The resounding message heard from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell, is simple -- this model works.
"As a proud graduate of OUSD, I benefited from the richness and diversity of our student body, and today we must work to increase the richness and diversity of our teaching staff as well,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “It is absolutely necessary that students in Oakland are all afforded an educational opportunity where their teachers look like them and share their lived experiences. One path to ensure this is to provide more economical housing options for our beloved teachers."
The program offers ‘teacher residents’ — graduate students training with mentor teachers while completing their teaching credential — the option of subsidized housing at the new Northgate Apartments in Oakland or housing stipends, and provides first and second year teachers stipends while also offering free financial advising services.
TRiO is believed to be the only program of its kind in the Bay Area (and possibly the U.S.) to provide subsidies to both working teachers and future teachers through stipends and reduced-price housing.
Along with keeping more teachers of color housing secure in Oakland, the pilot’s creators are working with state legislators and community partners to draft legislation and policies that will increase teacher-residents’ pay and increase affordable housing options for all educators. Recently, TRiO joined Assemblymember Buffy Wicks to successfully increase the funding allocated to teacher residencies for the next four years in the most recent California State Budget signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.
TRiO has helped the Oakland Unified School District triple the size of their cohort of teacher residents and more than tripled the number of teacher residents of color. The 9-year pilot program is projected to serve over 112 teachers, subsequently impacting over 50,000 students.
OUSD Superintendent Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell shared “Having been a teacher in Oakland, I know how hard it is to make ends meet in the Bay Area, especially when it comes to the cost of housing. And knowing how important it is for our students to have teachers and staff who look like them, we must be proactive. It's imperative for us to take a collective impact approach and identify ways to recruit and retain staff who reflect our students -- Black, Latinx and other teachers of color from the community. How do we keep them in Oakland? Through programs like TRiO that assist with offsetting one of the biggest pain points: housing and affordability costs.”
Recruiting and retaining teachers in Oakland, especially Black and teachers of color, and ensuring housing security, is a top priority for the city and district, where over 88% of the students are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color).
Teachers of color assist in closing the achievement gap, not only for the students of color but for students of all ethnicities. Research shows that not only do students of all races have more positive perceptions of their Black and Latinx teachers than they do of their white teachers, but they’re also more likely to have higher test scores, graduate high school, and are more likely to succeed in college1.
TRiO develops a pathway to retain and recruit teachers and meet one of the basic needs educators struggle with: housing. Ensuring Oakland teachers can stay housed in Oakland also addresses the impact of disparities on Black and teachers of color, who are more likely to experience housing insecurity than Caucasian teachers.
Oakland teacher Gustavo Ontiveros, a graduate student completing his teaching credential in Math at Oakland Technical High School, said “My family and I struggled, but thankfully I had educators who were willing to go beyond their job descriptions to help meet the needs of me and my family. My Latinx teachers inspired and encouraged me to keep breaking barriers that would keep me out of higher education. Eventually, I realized that my dream job was to be a high school math teacher. Without TRiO I would be living in a shared bedroom with little space for me to focus on my studies and lesson planning. Thanks to the support I have received from TRiO, I am able to continue being Mr. O to my students."
In addition to the signature donation from Bank of America, the pilot program is made possible by donations through Akonadi Foundation, Lisa Stone Pritzker Foundation, the Hellman Foundation, The California Endowment, and an anonymous donor.
“We’re excited to participate in this innovative initiative to help support a critical need in our local community -- recruitment and retention of teachers of color in Oakland,” said Gioia McCarthy, Bank of America president for San Francisco-East Bay. “Bank of America’s $1 million multi-year grant helps provide vital training and housing expenses funding for educators. Working together, we hope to help build a stronger educational system through STEM and special needs programming that is so important to the development of our youth.”
TRiO is a coalition supported by teachers and teacher residents, NAACP, Latino Education Network, Oakland Housing Authority, nonprofit leaders, elected officials, and philanthropic partners. View the entire Coalition of Institutional Partners and Funders (PDF).
Community members and organizations who wish to contribute to the fundraising efforts to support the program can visit the CDF’s donation page and write “Teachers Rooted in Oakland” for the tribute or organization gift, or directly contact Kyra Mungia, the Mayor’s Deputy Director of Education at email@example.com to donate or become a partner.
Learn more about the Teachers Rooted in Oakland pilot.
Messiah Madyun, City of Oakland
Betty Riess, Bank of America
1 Carver-Thomas, D. (2018). Diversifying the teaching profession: How to recruit and retain teachers of color. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.