Do You Want to Play with Balloons at the APW Studio?

Join us in supporting East Oakland Schools

Every time we do a photo shoot at APW, a bunch of you guys say to us, “I wish I could be there for that!” And every time we’re like, “We wish you could too!” But, you know, office life being what it is, we typically aren’t able to open up our studio doors on a random afternoon and invite a bunch of new friends to hang out with balloons and take pictures. EXCEPT NOW WE ARE. And the best part: it’s for a really good reason. On Saturday, February 24th, we’re hosting a photo pop-up at the APW studio in East Oakland (complete with a balloon wall, because ask and you shall receive) to benefit one of our local elementary schools.

Benefiting AN East Oakland Elementary School

Since APW isn’t really a parenting blog, I don’t talk much about my passion for public schools. So let me take a time-out to talk about one of the things I care about the most. Here is the backstory. My husband and I were born and raised in San Bernardino, California. That doesn’t ring a bell for most people, but these days it’s the second poorest city in the United States, second only to Detroit. When we were growing up, we didn’t have that particular distinction, though we had a number of other awful titles (including most murders per capita in California, and fifth in the nation), along with a cratering economy. We also happened to grow up in the ’80s, during an era where busing was still being used to integrate public schools. This meant that we grew up attending majority non-white schools in inner city neighborhoods, and we happened to go to a high school that is one of the rare schools in the long and troubled history of public education in the U.S., in that it was fully integrated. That meant that no single race or income level had a majority at the school. And to forestall all the questions that come next: We got a great education (we both have full I.B. diplomas), went on to top colleges, and ended up with a very different view of the world than most people know who grew up without integrated education. It also means that we’re passionate advocates for integrated public education.

Now that our oldest in is public school, we’re sending him to a local East Oakland school… even though Oakland schools have a serious problem with segregation and separate and unequal education. We also love his school. His teacher is teaching in the classroom where she started kindergarten in 1969. And she has been teaching transitional kindergarten and kindergarten at the school since the early ’80s. His aftercare program is full of wildly diverse and super devoted educators. I’ve started tutoring at the school through Reading Partners, helping to bring kids up to grade level. (If you’re in Oakland, you can do this too! Tons of kids are waiting to be paired with an adult who can read with them.) The kids are smart, kind, and totally delightful. Our son loves his school so much that he talks about it day and night.

It also is a Title 1 school, with 75 percent of the kids receiving free or reduced-cost lunch. That means that unlike wealthier schools in Oakland, the PTA does not have easy options to raise much-needed funds. Title I schools are always strapped for cash and resources. But due to Oakland Unified School District’s budget crisis, our school’s operating budget was slashed by $64,000 midyear. That means fewer resources for the kids that need it the most, kids that are some of the most delightful small humans I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

And that’s where we come in, all of us. The APW team decided that we could open up our studio to all of you, to help us raise money for this amazing school. So many of us think and talk about inequality in the age of Trump, but we are not sure what clear actions we can take to help. So today, we’ve got a really simple action that you can take (and if you live in the Bay Area, you can get a fun afternoon of confetti and balloons and some great photos out of it). Here is what you can do:

Pregnant woman standing by a windowCome Join Us!

If you’re in the Bay Area, sign up to join us in the APW studios on Saturday, February 24th to get your photo taken. We’ll have a wild and fun balloon backdrop and a plain and simple white backdrop. That way you can get cool photos for Instagram or that LinkedIn profile picture… or both. And because the APW community is great, a bunch of really amazing APW sponsor photographers have donated their time to the event, so you can get fun photos taken by a super talented professional for less than the cost of brunch.

  • We’re asking for a $35 minimum donation for a single person to get their photos done (profile picture, we gotchu).
  • For couples and families, we’re asking for a $50 minimum donation.


If you’re not local, or can’t make it, or just don’t want to leave the house, you can still help out! We’ll be hosting an online fundraiser too. Right now the school is trying to raise $15,000, and they’ve already gotten a lot of support from the local community, but we’re trying to put a big dent in that number. (If everyone who reads Happy Hour each week donated just $2, we’d be more than a third of the way there.)

How to get involved

To sign up for the popup, head over to our Eventbrite page, and register for a free ticket. There you’ll get all the logistical information about the event (aka how to find our studio and when to show up). Your session is donation-based at the door (with a minimum suggested donation of $35) and all proceeds from the event will go straight to the local elementary school PTA. Here are the full details:

Individual Photo Session (Headshots, Portraits): Suggested donation $35

  • 10 minute session
  • Choice of backdrop
  • Digital download of all photos taken
  • Perfect for LinkedIn profile pictures, any profile pictures, or a fun visit to the APW clubhouse with lots of confetti and photos for Instagram

Couple or Family Photo Session: Suggested donation $50

  • 10 minute session
  • Choice of backdrop
  • Digital download of all photos taken
  • Perfect for family portraits, kid photos, on-the-fly engagement photos, pictures for your wedding website, or a fun visit to the APW clubhouse with lots of confetti and photos for Instagram

When we moved into our new offices, we knew we wanted to make it part of the APW mission to support the community we’ve made our home, and this month we have a great chance to do just that. If you can come, we’d love to hang out with you. And if not, stay tuned for more opportunities like this (and please donate).

As always, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting APW, and for letting us pay that support forward.

(If you want to read more about issues of school segregation, I recommend the work of Nikole Hannah-Jones, particularly her New York Times article about picking a school for her daughter, and her recent Fresh Air interview.)

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