Oral Lee Brown Boarding School



The Oral Lee Brown Boarding School (OLBBS) will provide a safe haven for a subset of the children attending the Oral Lee Brown Preparatory Charter School (OLBCPS).

While the children are attending OLBPCS in grades K – 7 the faculty will identify youths that do not have a home environment that supports their effort to attend school and matriculate to a college degree. These at risk students will be housed in the boarding school during the years that they would be most vulnerable to the influence of gangs and violence.

The boarding school will deliberately coordinate additional resources for these students to proactively address opportunity gaps and align opportunities to develop individual talents, creating an extended family for more challenged students through coaches and mentors and providing a state of the art residence hall.

It will continue Ms. Brown’s promise of funding the college education of every graduate.

Executive Summary

For the last 25 years, Ms. Oral Lee Brown, and the Oral Lee Brown Foundation, have been working tirelessly to prepare, support, and fund East Oakland’s students to finish high school and complete college.

The Oral Lee Brown Foundation has “adopted” classes of underprivileged students, promising and delivering them a college education and a pathway to success.

Through her afterschool, Saturday, and college scholarship program she has propelled over 136 Oakland students on to college.

Our new k-14 charter school will build on this work, creating a supportive family, rigorous academic program, and housing a subset of our students in the OLBBS starting in 8th grade.

Boarding facilities starting in the 8th grade the OLBBS to provide an all-embracing, learning environment for a subset of our students. The boarding students will get a safe supportive and academically rich environment, and given this, we expect them to benefit the most from the school, benefitting from seamless anytime, anywhere learning facilitated by technology and residential learning coaches.

The Need

All of Oakland’s students need and deserve better and innovative educational options. In 2013, Oakland Unified School District was 147th of 149 California districts in performance of low income students and dead last in the entire state for performance and high school graduation among students of color.1 Even more sobering is the fact roughly equal numbers of young Black men and boys died on the streets of Oakland (787) over the last 10 years as those who graduated from high school having taken the A-G coursework, that would qualify them to even apply to the CSU or UC system (802).2 And unfortunately there is a direct relationship between disadvantage and outcomes, with the most disadvantaged students suffering in the worst schools with the fewest resources and smallest chances of success. These outcomes are not inevitable, and ultimately depend on all of us, as a community, to come together to support those children, who by an accident of birth, face extreme disadvantage. The Oral Lee Brown Foundation proposes to turn this equation on its head, creating an elite, resource intensive, facilities for ALL of Oakland’s students, the OLBPCS and OLBBS, where all of our children will succeed not only in high school, but complete a relevant college degree.


The Opportunity- A capital and human capital campaign

It truly takes a village to support our most challenged students. Nobody makes it on their own, and our students will need the support of the whole community to partake of the resources that they deserve. The success of the school depends on bringing more and better human resources into the lives of at risk youth (an extended family), and also providing them with the state of the art education program, school building, technology tools, and residential facilities (a home).

The Capital Campaign- An Oasis for Oakland’s Youth

The Oral Lee Brown Foundation is proposing to purchase an isolated and serene site to house our state of the art school as well as the residential facilities, and community use athletic fields and artistic spaces. The facility itself will be designed to create safe and open spaces for students to work and provide a flexible technology infrastructure and interfaces to allow students to extend learning time. This site will serve as an oasis for Oakland’s students, creating a safe space where they can grow socially and academically.

The Team

The team for the boarding school will include members of the Board of Directors for the OLBF and the OLBPCS.

The School

In Oakland we need to dream big for our children, and think differently about how to serve them. What we have been doing just has not worked and doing a little more of it or doing it a little better will not bring the radically different outcomes that we need. OLBPCS will be the first TK-14 school in Oakland and the first public residential charter school in Northern California. By embracing students longer, and providing them more intense and individualized support we know that all of our students can be successful. And for those students who don’t have supportive families or homes we will recreate those institutions for them through community support, a supportive and positive peer culture emulating a family, and the residence halls of OLBBS serving as a physical home.

Starting in 8th grade we will begin our residential program, OLBBS, which at scale will hold up to 80 boys and 80 girls. We will serve as Northern California’s first public residential school, modeled on the SEED program, which has been extremely successful in working with at risk students and supporting them into college.

We will pilot the program with 10-20 students in the first year. These students will be a mix of our existing students who may be facing challenges in their neighborhoods or homes that would benefit from a residential school. The residential program will be an opportunity to create a safe and stable environment for at risk students and also to extend and accelerate their learning.

Through 24/7 site connectivity, and the abundance of residential learning opportunities and supports, we expect to engage and capitalize on the time that we have with these students, drastically changing their trajectories.


The goal of the OLBBS will be to provide every OLBPCS student with a safe and supportive home environment.


OLBBS will be open to any student enrolled in OLBPCS after a check of the student’s home situation indicates that the boarding school would be necessary for the student to succeed.

Capital campaign

The Oral Lee Brown Foundation has a unique opportunity based on its reputation and relationships to raise funds for an ideal school site and grounds for the OLBBS.

Startup Funding

We have identified a number of initial funding opportunities to largely support the startup costs of the school:

Public charter schools grant- competitive grant for approved schools- $550,000

New Schools Venture Fund- prior to charter approval we will apply for a startup grant and afterwards an implementation grant of $80,000 and $400,000 respectively- $480,000

Silicon Valley Schools- Post approval we will apply to startup grant- $500,000

Walton Family Foundation- we will apply pre application for the planning grant, $20,000, and the post approval implementation grant, $230,000- $250,000

Human capital campaign

Oakland’s greatest resource is its people and we will make a deliberate and structured program to recruit, train, utilize, and develop ongoing relationships with students. We will create a volunteer talent bank and deploy volunteers in regular and structured ways to support the school, allocating 100 volunteer hours per student per year.

To the extent possible we will initially work through third parties to find and manage the logistics of tutoring, working with local colleges and universities to align tutoring with coursework or community service and also interfacing with fraternities, sororities and other community serving institutions to get them to take on specific pledges of volunteer hours. In an similar vein we will work with communities of faith, community based organizations, businesses and social organizations to recruit and coordinate tutors, as well as providing more general volunteer opportunities in our open call to the community.

Every school day and on the weekends will create opportunity windows for volunteers, providing regular push in time to do individual or small group reading, playing games that reinforce academic concepts, or providing homework help. There will also be clubs and activities organized and supported by volunteers that will come on site and also, with staff support, go off site.

As Ms Brown has “adopted” classes in the past we will ask Oakland organizations to do the same and commit to serious and sustained interactions with a selected group of students by a stable group of adults, volunteering their time and knowledge to support students who may lack such support at home.

While this volunteer force will take some staff time and resources to coordinate, train, and oversee, we believe that there will be substantial staff savings, by not having to devote paid staff to the more routine areas of student academic development, like guided reading, we can focus them on students who have the greatest challenges or may be non typical learners and require more expert support. And even beyond the staff cost savings we anticipate that, bringing a range of community members, college students, and community organizations into the school will also create other resource development opportunities, and a range of supporters and potential funders and internship sites, that will continue to pay benefits for the school and students.

Ongoing Fundraising needs

We are developing the ongoing funding needs of OLBBS and will update the website with a final financial plan as soon as it is finalized.

Facility Plan

A site for the first OLBBS has not been selected at this time. We will update the website as soon as the final facility has been selected.

Management Plan

Planning Team

The planning team is led by Ms. Brown and supported by Dirk Tillotson, with a strong set of diverse community leaders, serving as advisers. Ms. Brown has committed her time and resources to organizing the effort and aligning resources to support it. Mr. Tillotson is nationally recognized for his support of the development of high quality schools for at risk students, and indeed many of Oakland’s highest performing charter schools were schools that Mr. Tillotson worked directly with in their incubation or doing turnaround work with them.

Financial Plan

The financial plan for the OLBBS is under development. The website will be updated with the financial plan soon.

The Timeline

The Oral Lee Brown Foundation team is currently developing the plan and time lines for the OLBPCS. When this task is finished the team will turn it’s attention to the boarding school.