ELEVATE OAKLAND is a collaborative community initiative started by the non-profit organizations The Elevate Hope Foundation and 51Oakland in an effort to support Music & Arts education in the Oakland Public Schools - as a means to combat the alarming trend of a steadily-increasing student drop-out rate and sliding graduation rate (the high school graduation rate of the OUSD is less than 60% in 2012, according the CA. Dept. of Education).

The Elevate Hope Foundation was created in 2001 by pop music icon and Grammy-nominated performer 'Sheila E.' Escovedo and her business partner Lynn Mabry (herself a former successful back-up singer, who was also featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary 20 Feet From Stardom) .  Although Elevate Hope was established in Southern California, both women have strong Bay Area ties: Escovedo was born and raised in Oakland, and Mabry is a product of Berkeley, CA.  51Oakland is the result of a 2011 partnership between Yoshi Akiba (co-owner of Yoshi's Jazz Clubs, a Bay Area institution for 40 years) and Jason Hofmann, a member of the Oakland business community, patron of the arts, and former educator.

The Elevate Oakland initiative began in 2012 and was officially kicked off at a packed-house Community Summit Event at Yoshi's, Oakland - which featured student music, vocal, and spoken word performances, and discussions between community leaders about how best to serve Oakland's youth.   In its first full year of existence, Elevate's work has empowered and supported hundreds students in schools throughout the District, but the primary focus of its efforts has been at Oakland's Castlemont High School - which has shown one of the highest drop-out rates in California.

Thanks to Elevate Oakland's support, Castlemont was able to continue its Music & Performing Arts program - offering Guitar, Piano, Choir, and Band Classes, as well as a Hip-Hop Dance class (led by fellow Oakland non-profit Destiny Arts).  Elevate has also provided Castlemont Music classes with regular instruction from successful, established Bay Area musicians.  Artists-In-Residence Leah Tysse, Renee Wilson, and Oakland Hip-Hop Producer/ Emcee Kev Choice have all lent their time and prodigious talents to Castlemont music students, in an effort to impress upon the youth the importance of education, and to uplift and encourage them to follow their dreams.

On February 8th, 2014, Elevate Oakland & Sheila E. Presents will host the First Ever Elevate Oakland Benefit Concert at Oakland's historic Fox Theater.  This unique live music event will feature performances by Michael Franti and Friends, Oakland's Goapele, Judith Hill, Ozomatli, Orianthi, and special appearances by Kev Choice, the Oakland Future Quartet (formerly Oakland Future Trio), and Golden State Warriors DJ D-Sharp.

All proceeds from the event will go toward ensuring Music and Arts opportunities remain a part of every Oakland public school student's educational experience.  Article about event.