80% of families of an Oakland school hit with job losses, fundraising launched to help

With families across the Bay Area trying to cope with the many changes brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, efforts are under way to help an East Oakland school community that has been hit especially hard.

At Esperanza Elementary, 80% of the families now have one or both parents out of work as part of the fallout from the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, principal Cristina Segura told KTVU, adding that in more than 60% of the school's households, both parents are currently unemployed.

"As you can imagine once we heard these devastating numbers we knew we had to do something," Segura said. 

Esperanza Elementary School

Esperanza is a Title 1 school, and 100% of its roughly 350 students qualify for Oakland Unified School District’s free and reduced lunch program.

"... this unimaginable time in history is hitting our community hard,” said organizers of a GoFundMe campaign that was launched last week in response to the financial difficulties faced by families. So far, the effort has raised more than $29,000.

Segura said families are struggling and in critical need of food and other basic necessities.

"They are in a position where most of them do not qualify for food stamps, unemployment or other services due to the inequities within our system,” organizers said on the GoFundMe effort titled "Feeding Esperanza Families and Students." 

And officials stressed how much of an impact the families have had on the school community over the years. 

They described Esperanza parents as hard-working and dedicated contributors to not only the school but the greater Oakland community. "They volunteer at our school to maintain a positive school culture,” organizers wrote on GoFundMe. "We have parents supporting teachers and students daily in our classrooms, at recess time and in the cafeteria. They volunteer their time and provide love and dedication daily for their children and the larger community." 

Esperanza Elementary School

Esperanza's principal said as the families have long played an important role in strengthening the school and supporting teachers and staff, now the school has found itself needing to return that show of support in this critical time.

Esperanza Elementary School

"I believe it my duty to help. I will not let my community break apart; I cannot,” Segura said. 

Officials said the 100% of the donations from the GoFundMe will go directly to families so they can purchase groceries and other vital and basic needs. 

"I am asking for you, the larger community, to support our families during this time,” the principal pleaded. "Your support will help families survive during this unprecedented time."

Esperanza Elementary School