ALAMEDA (KPIX 5) – On Tuesday night, the Raiders came to the rescue of Oakland high school sports programs with a $250,000 donation that will make some drastic cuts unnecessary.
Officials planned to save money by slashing sports for the Oakland Unified School District, eliminating wrestling, tennis, golf, swimming and girl’s lacrosse among other sports to close a $500,000 budget deficit.
A last-minute Hail Mary by the Oakland Raiders will be saving many of those programs after the team announced they would step in to cover half of that deficit with their sizeable donation.
In a statement, Raiders owner Mark Davis said, “After school athletics are an important part of the high school experience and the donation will keep student-athletes on the playing fields in Oakland.”
“This donation from the Raiders is like a last-second game-winning touchdown,” Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said in a statement.
The Superintendent also called the Raiders “big brothers” to Oakland students and said there’s no way to properly thank them.
News of the cuts had already sparked an online giving campaign by the Oakland-based hip-hop platform Thizzler on the Roof, which had already collected several thousand dollars Tuesday.
“We have so many kids who use high school sports as like a gateway to college or a way to stay out of trouble,” said Thizzler on the Roof Operations Manager Tyrese Johnson.
Johnson said he was impressed by the team’s generosity.
“I think that’s incredible,” he said.
But he also noted that there is more to do.
“I would love to see that from the Warriors. I would love to see that from the A’s. I would love to see that from all of Oakland’s newest residents,” explained Johnson. “I think anyone who can do something should do something.”
Girl’s golf and girl’s tennis were saved recently with a $35,000 donation from an anonymous donor and another donation saved girl’s lacrosse, according to school district spokesman John Sasaki.
A separate donation may save wrestling.
Sasaki could not say which sports will benefit from the Raiders generosity, but donations so far have gone toward fall sports because they will be starting soon or have already started.
The team will allocate the money through the East Bay Community Foundation. The donation will be coordinated with the Oakland Athletic League, which is comprised of six comprehensive senior high schools in the district.