Mr. Dodds shares his story of service in Oakland
Bringing a lifetime of experience to Sankofa United!
Mr. Keith Dodds is Sankofa United’s African American Male Achievement Facilitator. He’s in his second year at Sankofa United in 2022, but has spent his entire career in support of his native Oakland community. Mr. Dodds thinks of schools as places where wonderful things can happen.
He recalls fondly, when he was in fifth grade, his teacher gave him an amazing opportunity--the chance to go away to Summer camp sponsored by the YMCA. He always felt like Mrs. Bastrom had a special eye on him, especially after this experience. After graduating from McClymonds High School and then Grambling State University, Mr. Dodds returned to Oakland and to a career in public service. First as a Camp Counselor at the Alameda County Los Cerros Boys Camp. From there Keith Dodds went on to work for the City of Oakland as a police officer, soon to be placed in the schools--one of which included the same school where Mrs. Bastrom was now principal--Marcus Foster Middle School. He describes playing basketball with the kids on campus and reconnecting with his former teacher, feeling like she was proud that he’d made the choice to give back to his community.
After a while, he was asked to take on a new role in the police department, which included bringing in faith leaders to homicide scenes as a liaison in OPACT, Oakland Police And Clergy Together program. Oakland’s homicide rate dropped significantly while he was working in the OPACT program. While he was still an officer, and active community leader, he also earned a Masters in Public Administration from Cal State Hayward.
Mr. Dodds wanted to get back to students, and when he retired from the police department after 25+years of service, he began work as an Intervention Specialist with OUSD in 2014. In 2017, Keith taught in a special day classroom at Prescott Elementary before coming to Sankofa United. Here, he works with all African American boys in the second through fifth grades. Students join him in classroom groups to go through the curriculum, which is centered around understanding Black history and excellence.
Mr. Dodds explained a recent project with the AAMA students. He emphasized to them that they are all “Black Gold"--in fact more valuable than gold. He asked them to carry themselves as good students, to demonstrate their exceptional value. The program envisions that Mr. Dodds is in touch with these boys as they progress on throughout their education in the Oakland public school system.
Informally, Mr. Dodds wears other hats on campus, making sure the boys in his program have what they need and watching out for all the kids at the school. He has a little office upstairs at Sankofa, adjacent to the library.
Mr. Dodds has been married to his high school sweetheart for over 30 years. They’ve raised five children, all of whom have gone to Historically Black Colleges. Two attended his alma mater, Grambling State University, and the other three graduated from Howard University in Washington, DC.