Oakland Reads 2020

By Children Rising
June 20, 2013

Lately, I’ve been reading about the positive changes that Oakland’s Operation Ceasefire program has been bringing to our community. At first, people were doubtful that this initiative would be effective–after all, the same program had been invoked in 2009 with little results. This time around, the public is seeing results in the arrests of gang members, and traffic stops that provide leads to seizure of drugs and illegal firearms, mainly because law enforcement is enforcing the law.

In the midst of these flashy triumphs comes the news of another initiative: Oakland Reads 2020. Though less sensational than busting drug dealers and pimps, increasing literacy in our schools will have a profound effect on future crime rates. Inadequate reading skills are such a strong indicator of future delinquency that the California Department of Corrections uses 3rd grade literacy rates to determine the future capacity of our state’s prisons.

Oakland Reads 2020 is an eight-year initiative that is part of a national vision to bring kids up to reading at grade level. While the ceasefire’s goal is to immediately squelch violence in our streets, improving literacy for Oakland schoolchildren and their families will hopefully counter truancy and crime 10+ years before they happen. With the power to read, kids are more likely to stay in school and pursue higher education.

The Oakland Literacy Coalition started Oakland Reads 2020 as a part of fulfilling their mission statement to “increase the capacity of literacy providers to improve early learning outcomes in order to ensure that all Oakland children are reading at a proficient level by the end of third grade. We fulfill this mission through collaboration, promotion of effective practices, resource development and policy work.” Not surprisingly, one of their collaborators is (…you guessed it) Children Rising. Additionally, the program is receiving financial support from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the Rogers Family Foundation, and the East Bay Community Foundation–all champions of early literacy and also funders of Children Rising’s Succeeding by Reading program. We are grateful for their support and glad to do our part!

If you would like to help a child with reading this summer, please contact It will be an investment into our future.


By Children Rising
June 5, 2013

We had our last day of tutoring two weeks ago, and our celebration day was last week.

Erick was able to get a prize from the prize box for reading another twenty books. He seemed a little discouraged by the choices that were left in the box (many kids have been earning prizes!). I held up a rubber popper and asked him if he knew how to make it jump.
Erick shook his head, so I turned it inside out and placed it back on the table.
“Now you have to wait for a little bit,” I said.
After a couple seconds, the popper flipped and surprised quite a few of us by flying up close to the ceiling and landing on the floor.
“I want it! I want it!” Erick yelled, his face completely alight. Scooping up the popper, he pocketed it immediately. And so it was that Erick’s final reading prize was the most powerful rubber popper I have ever encountered.

When it was time to give out certificates, Erick was quite embarrassed, but I also think he was also rather proud of his accomplishments. I congratulated him on finishing all the boxes of sight words while he ducked his head and blushed. I also gave him a copy of Frog and Toad are Friends–this is the last book that were we reading together and we didn’t have a chance to finish it.

All the reading students and tutors ate strawberries, cherries, and grapes, and we handed out certificates of achievement to each student. Each tutor gave words of encouragement to their students and the students had words of gratitude for their tutors. Most simply said, “Thank you for reading with me each week.”

It was a sweet time, and I will definitely miss Erick next year.

I like to think that our picture together reflects how sad he is about our time being over, but I think he might just be hamming it up for the camera.


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