Community Journal: Equipped for success

Community Journal: Equipped for success

Vicki Sedlack

Photos courtesy of Equipped 4 Success.

The future’s looking bright.

Last Friday I was fortunate enough to attend the promotional ceremony at Woodstock Child Development Center. I watched absolutely adorable 4- and 5-year-olds receive their preschool diplomas and backpacks full of school supplies, decked out in paper graduation caps and surrounded by throngs of cheering mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, grandparents, brothers and sisters.

Woodstock Child Development Center is the Alameda Unified School District’s preschool program. It serves some of our most vulnerable children, including kids placed in the child protective services system, children from homeless families and those whose families have very low incomes. Yet the overwhelming feeling I had at this ceremony was one of promise. It seemed everyone there was on the same page: That quality education is the brightest hope for their children’s futures.

I was proud to be there representing the Alameda Education Foundation and our Equipped 4 Success school supply drive. With generous support from the Alameda community, we supported these 52 young graduates - plus 964 other Alameda public school students! - with backpacks filled with school supplies, so they will have the same tools for learning on the first day of school as their more affluent peers.

The preschool program has been operated by the school district since 1943, yet it is a model for the future. The program works so well because it is a collaboration between several different agencies (it receives state, federal and private funding) that work together for the benefit of children.

Similarly, Equipped 4 Success is a collaboration of several different Alameda organizations that serve children, including the school district, Alameda Head Start (part of Alameda Family Services), Alameda Point Collaborative, the Alameda Boys & Girls Club, and Girls Inc. of the Island City. Each of these organizations once managed its own school supply drive, but in 2012 the foundation brought them together to form one drive, which we named Equipped 4 Success. After all, no matter what organization these children belong to, they are all our children and they all need our support. Equipped 4 Success has also become an initiative of the city’s Alameda Collaborative for Children, Youth and Families.

The foundation manages and serves as the fiscal agent for Equipped 4 Success. Our community partners help by sharing the message about the drive to their supporters, providing volunteers to sort and pack supplies, volunteering at community fundraising events, and distributing the backpacks to the students they support.

In fact, the entire Alameda community has become involved, from individuals making financial donations to businesses hosting donation bins to social service organizations providing grants.

It is a good thing we have come together, too, as the needs have grown over the last three years. In 2012, we supported 800 low-income students; this year, we distributed 1,016 backpacks!

The theme of the Woodstock promotion ceremony was “The World is a Rainbow.” Certainly, the beautiful children there represented a rainbow of cultures. But I also looked up the mythology behind rainbows and found many meanings, from magic to wealth, hope to knowledge.

I guess my hope with our work on Equipped 4 Success, as well as other programs and collaborations of the foundation and our community partners, is that all these meanings will come true for these children.

Vicki Sedlack is the executive director of the Alameda Education Foundation. More information on Equipped 4 Success and the Alameda Education Foundation may be found at More photos from Equipped 4 Success may be found on the Alameda Education Foundation Facebook page at

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