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Sweat equity in Oakland

This spring, as California schools face yet another round of budget reductions, some are giving this fundraising formula a try: Oakland pride + a fitness challenge + a way to help a school in need.

Sankofa Elementary School library, photo by Hasain RasheedDagmar Serota was in a meeting at the Sankofa Academy library when she noticed the bare shelves. The few books that were on them, she said, were old and outdated.

Like other schools in the district, the North Oakland elementary can’t afford a library clerk, let alone a librarian, to manage the collection and lend books to the children.

Then Serota thought about Urban Promise Academy, a middle school in Fruitvale, and the money it was able to raise last year through the Oakland Running Festival. She thought of all the excitement surrounding the marathon, and the fact that people seem to like running for a cause.

Fast forward a few weeks, and we have Run for Sankofa.

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Thoughts on mentoring — and being mentored

Carmen and Cynthia. Photo courtesy of UC Berkeley's Sage Mentoring Program

Cynthia Clark met Carmen Avila-Hernandez, a fifth-grader at Sankofa Academy in North Oakland, last fall through a mentoring program at UC Berkeley. Cynthia writes about her experience — and then asks Carmen what it’s been like for her.

The Sage Mentorship Project has been a life-changing experience that has given me the opportunity to have a positive impact on a child’s life, both academically and socially. Carmen and I have established a unique relationship — one where she knows that I am there as a mentor to support and assist her in reaching her goals, but at the same time we have found a friendship where we are able to learn from each other.

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Volunteer fair Saturday for Oakland schools

volunteers garden at Melrose Leadership Academy. File photo by Laura A. Oda/Staff

Want to help an Oakland public school? I hear they’re looking for a few good reading tutors, student mentors, career coaches, homework helpers, science coaches, artists, gardeners and playground monitors.

You can learn about those and other opportunities this weekend at a fair hosted by the Montclair Community Action Group and the school district. It’s from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Westlake Middle School, 2629 Harrison St. at 27th Street, across from the Whole Foods.

For more information about the event, visit the Montclair Community Action website , or email Risha Riley at risha.riley@ousd.k12.ca.us.

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Oakland school landscaping project Saturday, volunteers welcome

A volunteer weeds at a local high school. File photo by Jose Carlos FajardoAs I reported this spring, the Oakland school district’s facilities department took a big hit this year, laying off a number of gardeners, electricians and other workers.

Tomorrow, the department is teaming up with GKK Works and McCarthy Building Companies — and community volunteers — to clear brush and weed at four Oakland schools.

Interested? Here’s the scoop, straight from the news release:

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