ROOF Announces Recipient of $10,000 Community Excellence Award

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For the first time, the Red Oak Opportunity Foundation (ROOF) will be giving a $10,000 cash award to an individual in the San Francisco East Bay who has made it their life’s work to better their community.

ROOF has granted $1,000,000 to East Bay non-profit organizations.

For the first time, the Red Oak Opportunity Foundation (ROOF) will be giving a $10,000 cash award to an individual in the East Bay who has made it their life’s work to better their community.

The first recipient of the ROOF Community Excellence Award is Jill Ellis, Co-Founder and retired Executive Director of the Center for Early Intervention of Deafness (CEID) in Berkeley, California. Jill will accept the $10,000 award for CEID at the ROOF 30th Anniversary Celebration on Feb 21, 2015.

This special award will be presented during the opening event of the ROOF 30th Anniversary Celebration at the Mira Vista Country Club in El Cerrito, California. Tickets are $75 and all funds raised support ROOF philanthropy. Tickets may be purchased at

Jill has spent more than 30 years committed to the detection of early hearing loss and intervention for babies, children, and families in the East Bay. Currently the CEID serves approximately 70 babies and young children every year, but the number of people actually served -- including siblings, parents, grandparents, bus drivers, nannies, and babysitters -- is closer to 350.

The ROOF Community Excellence Award will be given each year to those who have made a passionate, long-term commitment to help those in the East Bay community.

Jill became interested in sign language in college. "I always had an affinity for languages," she says. "Signing came naturally to me."

With a master’s degree from Lewis & Clark's Graduate School of Education and Counseling, she went on to train at Good Samaritan Hospital–Infant Hearing Resource (now part of the Portland Hearing & Speech Center). She worked with parents and babies in Oregon and California.

When California's Proposition 13 passed, Jill recognized that funding for early special education was in jeopardy. In 1980, she and a colleague, Mary Molacavage, obtained a three-year federal grant from the Handicapped Child Early Education Program and launched their new family-centered program in the basement of the United Methodist Church in San Francisco. When the grant ended and referrals from the East Bay began to come in, they located new funding sources and moved their program to Berkeley.

CEID continues to train 80 to 100 pediatric residents from several area teaching hospitals each year. Over 1,000 people of all ages are served through the Center’s Community Audiology Clinic. There are many more success stories at

Red Oak Realty established ROOF for the purpose of supporting local homeless, educational, and other organizations whose focus is helping residents of the communities Red Oak serves. Since 1985, thanks to the generosity of the ROOF community, ROOF has been annually distributing grants. 2015 marks our 30th year and a total of $1,000,000 granted to many worthy organizations, enabling them to make a real difference in the lives of East Bay residents. 2015 grant recipients will be announced by the end of December and will also be given their awards on Feb 21, 2015 at 7 PM. Free and open to the public. For more information about ROOF visit

For more information, contact:

Cherie Carson
ROOF Co-Director
Red Oak Opportunity Foundation
6450 Moraga Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611

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