OUSD Teachers and Principals Renew Their Commitment to Support Families in Great Need; Virtual Press Conference Announcing New Campaign Set for Wednesday Morning
Oakland – Educators in Oakland Unified School District are reactivating a campaign to help vulnerable immigrant families during California’s unprecedented COVID-19 spike. The StimulusPledge.org website which raised more than $250,000 in spring of 2020, has been updated for concerned residents to pledge some or all of their coming stimulus checks or to donate directly to help families who will not receive assistance from the federal government. Oakland educators hope their campaign will spread to school districts throughout California and across the nation as immigrant communities across the country face this unprecedented economic and healthcare crisis.
“We were so moved by the outpouring of support from the community in support of immigrant families who are suffering some of the worst effects of the pandemic,” said Bridges Academy Principal, Anita Iverson-Comelo. “We decided to restart the website and reach back out to the community so that we can continue to help our families in need.”
Teachers and principals on the frontlines working with immigrant communities are hearing directly from families on a regular basis. In many cases, one or both parents have lost their jobs and have no income because of the stay-at-home order. Additionally, some families are ineligible for government assistance such as unemployment benefits or the approximately $600 per person that is being distributed through stimulus checks for qualifying individuals. “As principals, we know there is a huge need in the community. Everyone is struggling, but immigrant families receive the least support and are particularly vulnerable. StimulusPledge.org has created an opportunity not only for educators, but also the larger community to come together and help our hard-working immigrant families,” said Emerson Elementary School Principal, Heather Palin.
Unique in its approach, the Stimulus Pledge is based on a behavioral economics concept called pre-commitment, whereby people commit to taking a specific action with an anticipated financial windfall. This concept has been effectively used with tax refunds and is now being applied to the stimulus checks that are arriving this week. Anyone can take the pledge at: https://stimuluspledge.org/
While many school districts that serve immigrant families, such as OUSD, have food distribution programs to ensure that there is some food on the table, the need is far greater. In many cases, families face an additional barrier to accessing resources due to lack of transportation.
Through teacher calls to check in on remote learning, OUSD educators have learned that up to 75% of immigrant families have seen their income significantly reduced or totally eliminated in the past several weeks. Families, many of whom were already living paycheck to paycheck, are now put in an extremely difficult financial situation. “So many of my students’ families who I’ve talked with are under tremendous financial stress and have absolutely no money left. Whatever resources that were available to immigrant families in this crisis have dried up or are not accepting new applicants. I can’t emphasize enough how dire the situation is for the families we serve,” said United for Success Academy middle school teacher, Cassandra Chen.
StimulusPledge.org is an all-volunteer, zero-overhead coalition of Oakland educators and non-profit organizations committed to helping undocumented families most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by making it easy for those receiving a stimulus check to pledge some or all of it to families who will receive no federal assistance. To take the pledge, visit: https://stimuluspledge.org/
About the Oakland Unified School District
In California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 81 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy. We are committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success.
To learn more about OUSD’s Full Service Community District focused on academic achievement while serving the whole child in safe schools, please visit OUSD.org and follow us @OUSDnews.
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