Proposed Oakland school wins $10M in national contest backed by Laurene Powell Jobs

A proposed high school in Oakland has won $10 million to help get it off the ground, thanks to a national competition funded by Laurene Powell Jobs.

Summit Elevate is one of 10 winners of the XQ: The Super School project, an effort to “rethink” education that was first announced last year. The competition received nearly 700 team applications, and applicants came in from every state in the country, Powell Jobs said during the announcement of the winners this week in Washington, D.C., which was live-streamed on Facebook.

Powell Jobs said the project decided to name 10 winners instead of five as originally planned “because of the overwhelming community engagement and so many extraordinary models” among the applicants.

Summit Elevate will be a joint effort between Redwood City-based charter school network Summit Public Schools and the Oakland Unified School District, as well as other partners including California College of the Arts and Silicon Schools, which helps fund new schools in the Bay Area.

Summit Elevate’s winning formula: focusing on career exploration, mentorships and real-world experiences.

“At Summit, we deeply believe in partnership and authentic collaboration,” Andrew Goldin, Summit’s chief of schools, told SiliconBeat in an email Friday. “Summit Elevate will also offer specific, long-term internships or volunteer experiences through partnerships with Bay Area organizations that have developed projects or experiences that are aligned with classwork.”

There’s a lot of work to be done, including finding a location in Oakland, but a Summit spokeswoman said the target open date for the school is fall 2018. The school will start off with 100 ninth-graders, and add one grade per year through 12th grade.

Summit operates 10 charter schools in California — including schools in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area — and Washington. Some Oakland schools use Summit’s personalized-learning software, a Summit spokeswoman said.

“Summit Public Schools is already doing extraordinary work to help teachers tailor learning to students’ individual needs, and we are eager to further deepen our partnership in ways that will benefit all Oakland students,” said Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Antwan Wilson in a press release.

Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, is known for her philanthropic work in education. She also co-founded College Track, which helps low-income students pay for college.

The nine other winners of the competition include two proposed schools in California: one in Los Angeles and one in San Diego county.


Photo: From left, Ashley Marsh from design firm Gensler, Kristen McCaw and Andrew Goldin from Summit Public Schools, Stacey Wang of the Oakland Unified School District, Brian Greenberg of Silicon Schools and Stephen Beal of California College of the Arts on stage in Washington, D.C., Sept. 14, 2016, during the announcement of the XQ contest winners. (Courtesy Summit Public Schools)


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