The mission of Heads Up is to provide first-generation college bound students of color from Oakland public schools with challenging and enriching programming to cultivate socially responsible leaders.

The Heads Up Program at Head-Royce School was founded in 1987 by the then Head of School Paul Chapman and faculty member Barbara Gee. They had two primary goals in mind: to give back to the community and to make Head-Royce a true citizen of Oakland. Over the last three decades, Heads Up has become institutionalized at both Head-Royce School (HRS) and within the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), while simultaneously supporting the academic success and community engagement of more than 1,000 underserved students from Oakland. For many years, Heads Up has sustained itself through the relationships of a small, uniquely committed group of individuals, including founders Paul Chapman and Barbara Gee at HRS, Denise Saddler and Sue Woehrle (both HRS alumnae) at OUSD, and a core group of committed Heads Up and Head-Royce School faculty members. These collaborative relationships have been a vital asset to Heads Up, and have greatly informed the program’s impact and trajectory. 

A key part of the Heads Up philosophy is to work with high potential students. For us, that means thinking broader than test scores and academic marks. Our students are curious learners, eclectic thinkers and strong leaders. Below, you’ll find a snapshot of our current student body:

  • Heads Up currently serves 116 students in grades 6-9 (increased overall enrollment by 8 students). 

  • 57% Latinx; 30% Black/African-American; 3% Asian; 3% Pacific Islander; 7% Other. 

  • 86% of students qualify for free and/or reduced lunch while all of our families qualify as “Low Income” according to Oakland HUD Guidelines.

  • Nearly 32% of our current students had a sibling who also participated in the program.

  • Heads Up has graduated more than 1,000 students. Currently, 85% of students complete the four-year program.

  • 80% of Heads Up students in the 2019 summer program agreed that their four academic classes will help them be successful in the upcoming school year.