Santa Fe Community School Design Team

The Santa Fe Community Association & Neighbors (Santa Fe CAN) is seeking a partner to develop a high-quality and accessible school in our North Oakland neighborhood. We are looking for an educational leader or organization to collaborate with us in designing an innovative new school program for all families in our community.

Santa Fe CAN’s Education Committee intends to propose a new public, community-based K-5 school that serves families throughout Northwest Oakland and nearby areas in need. The new program will operate at the former Santa Fe Elementary school site located at 915 54th Street.

Santa Fe CAN is a volunteer-driven 501(c)(3) grassroots community group that formed in 2013 to enhance the livability of Santa Fe through the work of several committees: Education, Community Building, Beautification, Public Safety, and Economic Development.

Driven by parents, grandparents, community members, and educational leaders, the Education Committee immediately launched an ambitious campaign to re-open its neighborhood school campus. Santa Fe Elementary had been abruptly closed by the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in 2012. Faced with a lack of high-quality school options that are accessible both in terms of enrollment and location, long-time residents and the influx of newer families started turning to alternative school options elsewhere in Oakland and other cities. We recognized that this was fracturing our community on multiple levels and set out to determine the feasibility of bringing back a neighborhood school that could unite our community.

Despite challenges OUSD has faced in recent years related to leadership changes, budget shortfalls, and falling enrollment, our committee has remained steadfast in its belief that the true strength of a school is primarily dependent on the investment of its own community. It is this belief that has driven this campaign forward. Over the last three years, the Education Committee has accomplished the following:

April 2014

Collected over 260 responses on our North Oakland Family Survey to gauge neighborhood interest in re-opening a neighborhood school. The results of this survey provided us with key data in moving forward, namely that A) there were a significant number of children in our neighborhood that could support robust enrollment in a neighborhood school and B) there was general frustration in the lack of school options that were both high-quality and accessible. Current local options are either too hard to get to (across major traffic arterials), or too hard to get into (long enrollment waiting lists).

August 2014

Began hosting monthly play dates at the local park for neighborhood families and the annual National Night Out “Kids Zone” block party for dozens of neighborhood children.

August-October 2014

Collected over 150 signatures in an open letter to new OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson requesting a meeting to discuss the Santa Fe school’s future.

October 2014

Met with Oakland’s Mayor Jean Quan to outline efforts and receive feedback. We also formed an alliance with nearby community groups the Golden Gate Community Association (GGCA) and the Longfellow Community Association (LCA), both of which represent neighborhoods that fall within the Santa Fe catchment.

November 2014

We held a packed, standing room only Community Forum with OUSD Superintendent Wilson where our committee outlined the community’s need for a better and more accessible school option. This forum was covered by the Oakland Tribune.

March 2015

Led a campaign (over 200 letters submitted to all OUSD Board Directors) to advocate for priority neighborhood enrollment while Glenview Elementary (an OUSD school from Oakland’s Lower Hills undergoing construction) is temporarily housed on the Santa Fe site from Fall 2016 to Summer 2019. This successful organization effort and the resulting unanimous board vote in favor of local priority enrollment in Glenview at Santa Fe was covered on the front page of the Education section of the San Jose Mercury News.

May 2015

Hosted our first Visioning Session for community members to gather and brainstorm their ideas for a permanent community-based school at Santa Fe, after which we launched our campaign website: BRINGBACKOURSCHOOL.ORG.

September 2015 – February 2016

Completed a door-to-door canvassing campaign spanning the Santa Fe, Golden Gate, and Longfellow neighborhoods. That initiative produced more than 1,000 community members pledging their support for the re-opening of the Santa Fe school campus as a neighborhood school.

September 2016

Accepted as fellows into the School Design Lab at Educate78, a local non-profit working to increase access to world-class public schools throughout Oakland. As Educate78 fellows, our committee has gained additional support, resources, and recognition to create a viable program.


Hosting visioning sessions and one-on-one interviews throughout Santa Fe and neighboring areas. After each session or interview, we incorporate the public input into our program proposal to be presented to OUSD.

The Education Committee meets monthly and is open to partnering with any individuals and organizations who have the passion, skills, and capacity to help build a new school that will support and strengthen all members of our community.

Neighborhood History

Following the Native Americans of the Ohlone Tribe, other inhabitants of the Santa Fe area have included communities of Danes, Swedes, Italians, Chinese, Japanese and African Americans. Italians thrived in large numbers in North Oakland from the 1890s to 1960s, when most of the existing houses in the neighborhood were first built. Demographics began to shift in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, when neighborhoods were splintered by the installation of the Grove-Shafter Freeway and the introduction of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) tracks.

A great majority of Oakland’s early African American populations migrated from the South during World War II. In the late 1950’s, many transplants opened businesses along Market Street in North Oakland. That strip has been nicknamed “Black Wall Street” where lawyers, doctors, real estate brokers, pharmacists, dentists, and others catered to Black residents and others city-wide.
During the 1960’s, the Black Panthers were formed in the Santa Fe and Longfellow neighborhoods in response to ongoing police brutality. They later expanded to form chapters in East Oakland and beyond. The Panthers are well-known for having established the Free Breakfast Program in elementary schools and offering free medical services. Santa Fe Elementary was one of the first schools to house the breakfast program, which has now expanded throughout the United States.

Neighborhood Demographics

Like the city of Oakland as a whole, the neighbors in the Santa Fe and surrounding districts represent a diverse community, racially, culturally and socio-economically.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census there were 2,782 children under the age of 18. An estimated 30% of these (or roughly 835 children) were from age 0-5. Roughly 700 children (25%) in the Santa Fe attendance area lived under the poverty level.

According to the American Community Survey from 2015 and UC Berkeley’s study of the MacArthur BART station in 2013 households in these neighborhoods identify their race/ethnicity as: White: 35% Black: 32% Latino: 15% Asian: 13%

In more recent data, the median household income in our neighborhood is $46,858. That compares to Oakland as a whole: $57,459, and Alameda County: $93,600. (Median household income estimates generated by Onboard Infomatics.

Today, like much of Oakland, Santa Fe and its surrounding neighborhoods are experiencing rapid changes presenting a number of complex challenges. The three local community associations face these challenges by focusing on community-based projects that work to honor our neighborhood’s history, increase quality of life for all, not just some, and attempt to build bridges between the diverse populations, cultures, and age groups. The re-establishment of a local public community school is one such project.

Current Student Demographics and Attendance

OUSD produces a yearly Strategic Regional Analysis (SRA) report of data reflecting trends in performance, demographics, school choice, and capacity utilization. The report is meant to highlight “regions and their most immediate needs, integral to the development, maintenance and enhancement of Community Quality Schools.” For this report, the city of Oakland is divided into five regional boundaries, and the entire Santa Fe school catchment area falls into the “West” region.

In their 2016/2017 SRA report, OUSD provided the following data for the West region:

  • 76.4% of students living in West region qualify for free/reduced lunch
  • 18.2% of students living in West region are English Language Learners
  • 49.6% of students are African-American, 10.5% are Asian, 20.2% are Latino, 11.8% are White, and 4.5% identify with Multiple Ethnicities
  • Within the entire “West” region, 31.6% of students attend the neighborhood school to which they are zoned, 35% attend a school outside of their neighborhood catchment, and another 31.5% attend a “citywide” school.
  • The entire West region, which serves a total of 5,746 students, has only 4 full-service community schools

Additionally, Oakland Unified School District provides yearly Live Go data on where Oakland students live and where they attend school, which allows us to take a closer look at the enrollment status of the schools to which Santa Fe families have been assigned. Families who live in what was formerly the Santa Fe Elementary School catchment area are now in the re-drawn catchment zones for either Sankofa Academy or Emerson Elementary.

The following data is taken from the 2016/2017 school year:

Sankofa Academy

-35.6% of Sankofa population is from the Sankofa attendance area
-Of all OUSD enrolled students that live in Sankofa attendance area, 16.4% attended Sankofa in 2015/2016*

*2016/2017 data for the Sankofa attendance area included the children who opted to enroll in Glenview Elementary while it is temporarily housed on the Santa Fe campus. These calculations showed that of all OUSD enrolled students who live in the Sankofa attendance area, 21% attended Sankofa OR Glenview.

Emerson Elementary

-37% of Emerson population is from the Emerson attendance area
-Of all OUSD enrolled students that live in Emerson attendance area, 31% attend Emerson

Keep in mind that the data provided by both the SRA and Live/Go reports only include students who enrolled in an OUSD district or charter school. It does not reflect the growing number of families who are enrolled in private schools or who have opted to attend schools in nearby cities like Berkeley and Emeryville.

Current School Accessibility

The areas in yellow and green show what is now the Sankofa Academy enrollment catchment, while the areas in green and blue show the Peralta Elementary enrollment catchment. The purple area represents the Emerson enrollment catchment. The former Santa Fe Elementary School catchment included all of the yellow zone west of Shattuck, and most of the purple zone west of Grove Shafter Freeway 24.

One major contributing factor as to why a majority of families from the former Santa Fe catchment are not opting to enroll their children in either Sankofa or Emerson is the often dangerous routes that are required to access those schools. The map below shows the location of the current district-run public school options in our area (Sankofa, Emerson, and Peralta Elementary) as well as the location of the Santa Fe school site.

Students living in the Golden Gate and Santa Fe districts who now attend Sankofa Academy must cross over, in some cases, three major traffic arterials (San Pablo, Stanford Avenue, and Martin Luther King Jr. Way) to arrive at school. Students living in the Longfellow district who now attend Emerson Elementary must trek under the 24 Freeway and across Telegraph Avenue, which is also a congested traffic arterial.

In addition to the district schools on the map, there are four district or county-run charter schools currently operating in our area, of which only two have some weighted neighborhood preference in their enrollment lotteries for a very limited number of available seats.

Due to the lack of viable school options, the Santa Fe area is now largely seen as a school desert. Most families have become resigned to the fact that they have to face an inconvenient route or commute to get their kids to school while some are deciding to move out of the area in pursuit of better options. Our movement and the momentum we’ve built toward restoring a high-quality program at the Santa Fe site is instilling hope of a more sustainable community in which our children can thrive together.

Throughout our community engagement work we have been collecting feedback from families throughout the Santa Fe and adjacent neighborhoods to determine what kind of permanent school our community needs and wants. We’ve collected input through surveys, visioning sessions, and one-on-one interviews. From that feedback, we have developed the following school design pillars:

Our school will serve as a safe and supportive center for students, students’ family members, and community members.

Our school will continually work to maintain a community that is diverse in cultures, races, socioeconomics, orientations, and abilities.

Our students will study in more than one language. *

Our classrooms will be innovative spaces filled with discovery, inquiry, critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration.

Our school will honor North Oakland’s rich history in social justice by teaching our students to challenge injustice while defending our most vulnerable citizens.

* We are open to models ranging from language enrichment to dual-language immersion

We are seeking a partner and advocate with the expertise and skillsets that can lead us through the next phase of designing a high-quality school. Once selected, our partner will be expected to

  • Develop an education model that incorporates the community feedback and research our committee has collected thus far.
  • Design a school leadership model that is based on principles set by the Santa Fe CAN Education Committee.
  • Produce deliverables necessary for pre-authorization and authorization of the new school program, including a governance structure, budget/financial plan, and operating plan.

Please address as many of the following questions and tasks as possible in order to demonstrate your individual or organizational capacity to lead.


In no more than 3 paragraphs, please describe your personal or your organization’s mission, vision, and values for high-quality, equitable education.

School Model

Please provide a brief (3 paragraph) description of the school model(s) with which you/your organization has the most experience. Then, address the following questions related to our design pillars.

Full Service Community School

  • What do you see as a school’s central role in a community?
  • How should community partnerships be managed and cultivated?

Diversity & Inclusivity

  • What is your individual or organization’s educational philosophy in regard to establishing equity across differences in culture, race, socioeconomics, orientation, and ability?
  • What learning model/structure do you support for students with special needs and why?
  • What enrollment strategies would you engage to maintain a diverse school community?

Multilingual Instruction

  • Describe any multilingual educational model(s) that you have experience with. Please tell us what is most successful and what is most challenging about that model.
  • What language model would you propose for a diverse school community and why?

Experiential Learning

  • Describe your process for school-wide curriculum development. Who would be involved and how?
  • Provide an example of a curriculum overview and one sample unit you or your organization has developed or with which you’ve had experience. Explain why you feel this curriculum would be beneficial for the students of Santa Fe.

Social Justice

  • Describe how you would ensure that Restorative Justice is not just an individualized program but that its principles are incorporated into the school culture and curriculum.
  • How would you incorporate North Oakland’s history of social justice civic engagement into the Santa Fe curriculum?
  • How might the Santa Fe school break patterns of inequity commonly perpetuated in public schools?

School Climate and Culture

As a community-based school, we expect that our partner would be accepting of robust participation by all members of the school community.

  • What has been your experience with school environments in which shared leadership has been effective?
  • What do you believe makes a school’s Board or SSC (School Site Council) an effective and inclusive body?

School Teams

We believe it is imperative that our Santa Fe CAN Education Committee play an active role in the development of a high performing school team.

  • Describe the process by which you would involve our committee in the hiring and selection of the school leader, staff, and teachers.

School Governance

Our community has a strong preference for developing a district school that operates with autonomies. Based on this desire

  • How would you negotiate and partner with the Oakland Unified School District?
  • What support would you need from the community in order to do this?

School Operations

We plan to open the new Santa Fe school in Fall 2019. We expect the program to serve approximately 400 Transitional Kindergarten through 5th grade students at full capacity.

  • Provide us with a proposed school staffing model for Year 1.
  • Provide us with a proposed timeline leading up to this intended launch, outlining your key benchmarks/deliverables. Describe how you would not only maintain transparency, but also incorporate community feedback throughout the process.

Partnership Capacity/Qualifications

  • Describe a successful project or program you have worked on.
  • What is your capacity for seeking out or providing financial and/or human resources for the startup phase of the Santa Fe Community School?
  • Please provide a CV for yourself and/or key members of your organization to give us a sense of your scope of experience in designing a new school program.

The Santa Fe CAN Education Committee will review information gathered from submissions along with continual collection and analysis of community feedback to select a partner to lead the Santa Fe Community School Design Team. The following timeline reflects our benchmark goals leading up to a Fall 2019 launch and is subject to change.

June 2, 2017 – RFI Released
July 21 – Submissions Due
July 31 – August 11 – Applicant Interviews (interviews to occur on weekday evenings)
August 21 – Santa Fe Design Team selects design partner(s).
May 2018 – Santa Fe Design Team submits proposal to OUSD for new Santa Fe Community School
June 2018 – OUSD Board votes on Santa Fe Community School proposal
June – September 2019 – Ramp up and Launch prep for new school
September 2019  Proposed School Opens

Organizations and individuals submitting responses are asked to submit one electronic PDF document by 5pm PDT on July 21, 2017. Please send responses as attachments to

Please direct any questions to Santa Fe Education Committee at