Volunteering For Oakland (VFO) a 501(C)3 non-profit, is a dynamic all-volunteer group formed in 2009 with the goal of taking Action with projects, events and programs serving our community as a whole. Based on our volunteers expressed interest in addressing greater Oakland’s needs, VFO has worked toward improving Education, Healthcare, the Urban Environment, and Voter Registration.
We don’t “re-invent the wheel” – VFO innovates with new projects and adds value by partnering with non-partisan groups, local social service agencies, and focused governmental programs. Our initiatives are shaped by input to and from our board members, all long-time Oakland residents. In our actions, we are supported by a variety of donors and work with community oriented participants. We are currently focusing on Dictionary Day. Our projects, past and present, include the following:
(2012 – ongoing)
Volunteering For Oakland became involved with The Dictionary Day Project in January 2012. The project entails distributing dictionaries published by The National Dictionary Project to third grade students in Oakland Public Elementary schools. In giving dictionaries to the students, VFO volunteers spend thirty to forty minutes in each classroom doing interactive activities with the students. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, VFO continually distributed more than 2,000 dictionaries each year to at least 30 OUSD schools. VFO volunteers made presentations to 1,720 students in 65 third grade classes in 28 schools during the 2019-2020 academic year. During the 2020-2021 academic year, 1,470 dictionaries and scavenger hunts provided by VFO were distributed by OUSD staff at distribution hubs. As schools transitioned back to classroom learning in the 2021-2022 academic year, 30 classrooms were provided nearly 700 dictionaries and scavenger hunts at 11 schools.
(2013 – 2016)
Volunteering For Oakland hosted events to help residents enroll for affordable healthcare coverage under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. During the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 open enrollment periods, we helped over 1,000 get coverage. We were a Community Outreach Network Partner with Covered CA and worked with the Alameda County Social Services for Medi-Cal enrollment.
(2009 – 2017)
We have held Volunteer Fairs annually since 2009. During those years we have introduced nearly 400 potential volunteers to the agencies that work with Oakland children and their families with a wide range of services, from tutoring to theatre, to family engagement. We have had very positive responses from the organizations that train and support the volunteers as well as from the volunteers themselves. Our contacts within this community have encouraged volunteerism beyond our scope, serving other needs in Oakland.
See agencies that have participated in prior volunteer fairs
Oakland Unified School District Registration
(2010 – 2015)
The weeks before school begins can be hectic for a family new to the school district. VFO volunteers have assisted the district with the school enrollment process.
(2016 – 2018)
Since 2016, in partnership with the League of Women Voter, hundreds of residents were registered at festivals, supermarkets, clinics, churches, schools, music events, and other public place.
Visit the League of Women Voters for more information.
Book Drive / Friends of Oakland Public School Libraries
(2010 – 2011)
At an Oakland Literacy Coalition Meeting several years ago, it was pointed out that one of the literacy issues many children faced was a lack of appropriate reading material in their homes. We held several book drives to try to help close this gap and a group of volunteers worked to refurbish unused libraries in the schools. VFO supported the goal of providing every OUSD student with access to a quality school library. This group is now known as Friends of Oakland Public School Libraries or FOPSL and has been awarded grants to continue its success.
Greening Oakland Homes Fairs and Workshops
(2009 – 2011)
From 2009 to 2011, our Greening Oakland Homes (GOH) group held Environmental Fairs in Oakland neighborhoods, bringing local residents together with Green contractors, suppliers and organizations to promote residential energy efficiency. GOH also partnered with the City of Oakland Office of Sustainability, Stopwaste.org and PG&E to present workshops on Green retrofits and home energy savings.
Oakland School Supply Drives
(2009 – 2010)
VFO’s predecessor group, Montclair Community Action Group, successfully carried out several annual school supply drives. MCAG gathered thousands of pens, pencils, notebooks, backpacks, highlighters, and other small supplies needed and used by students on a daily basis. Working with our distribution partner, Faith Network of the East Bay, we provided enough school supplies to have an impact.
Oakland Unified School District Recognition Event
(2011 – 2012)
VFO members helped district staff with this event in 2011 and 2012.