Oral Lee Brown is an extraordinary woman who in 1987 made a promise to the entire first grade class at Brookfield Elementary School in East Oakland, California. Mrs. Brown promised the 23 students that if they stayed in school and graduated from high school, she would pay for them to attend college.
Initially, she deposited $10,000 into a bank trust account and established the Oral Lee Brown Foundation. Each year Mrs. Brown deposited another $10,000 in the account, fulfilling her commitment through 1999.
Mrs. Brown sponsors the annual Scholarship Gala which celebrates the graduating seniors of the Oral Lee Brown Foundation, she mentors the students, and meets with their parents on a regular basis.
In the first phase 19 of the original 23 students graduated from high school and went on to college.
The second phase produced 18 graduates moving on to college out of 20 participating students.
Phase three was even more successful, with all 18 out of 18 students graduating from high school and enrolling in college.
A member of the Harmony Missionary Baptist Church, the Oakland Community Housing Resource Board, the Oakland Board of Realtors, Associate Real Property Brokers and Cal-Pak Association, Mrs. Brown has also served as Commissioner for the Alameda County Assessment Appeal Board for eight years.
Mrs. Brown earned an Associate of Arts degree from Laney College in Oakland; a Bachelor's of Science degree from the University of San Francisco; a Bachelor's of Arts degree from Hawaii; and Honorary Doctorates from Columbia College, Merrimack College in Boston and the University of San Francisco.
Links & References
Oral Lee Brown Foundation website
The Promise: How One Woman Made Good on Her Extraordinary Pact to Send a Classroom of 1st Graders to College by Oral Lee Brown & Caille Millner