Last Call!

By Children Rising
May 30, 2015

It’s not too late to purchase a gala ticket!

Enjoy an evening of flavorful foods, entertainment, and inspiring stories while you learn about how you can invest in our children.

Oakland Unified School District Superintendent, Antwan Wilson, is our special guest speaker!

To purchase tickets or sponsor the event, visit or call our office (510-836-5100).

Blazingly Cool Science

By Children Rising
May 29, 2015

by Jocelyne Birren, Interim Director of Volunteers

Last month, fifth-graders from Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary journeyed to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in conjunction with Berkeley Lab Adventure Zone in Elementary Science (BLAZES). Looking ever so professional in white lab coats, gloves, and safety goggles, they participated in hands-on activities to find out what conducts electricity and when do substances change from one state of matter to another. They were very engaged and asked many questions:

“How can a person distinguish one gas from another?”
“Is nitrogen natural or man-made?”
“If nitrogen is a gas, how can it be converted to liquid?”

Dry ice fascinated the students in particular. There was a collective “aha!” moment when they saw an air-filled balloon shrivel up after it was immersed in liquid nitrogen, creating dry ice in the process. They witnessed what happens when a small piece of dry ice is dropped into a flask filled with 150 milliliters of water.

Whenever appropriate, the students’ teacher urged students to picture themselves as scientists. Perhaps the best encouragement came from one of the scientists who mentioned the usefulness of play-doh in the lab. He concluded, “The coolest thing about being a scientist is that you never have to grow up.” That comment seemed to be an inviting proposition to at least one fifth-grader.

BLAZES’s mission is to inspire and prepare the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technicians. Indeed, several students are already contemplating becoming chemists, surgeons, and robotics engineers. Thank you, BLAZES, for demonstrating how science is cool!

President’s Corner: Investing In Our Children

By Children Rising
May 29, 2015

I remember saving for a Schwinn bicycle with silver chrome fenders. When I was a kid, my parents opened up my very own savings account into which I would deposit money I made from odd jobs. Small deposits began to add up. Eventually I put in an order from the Sears catalog. Oh happy day when my brand-new bike arrived! Proudly, I rode around my neighborhood on that shimmering Schwinn.

Very few children instinctively know how to manage their money well and people often do not recognize the value of teaching them credit worthiness and delayed gratification. Not every child gets the opportunity to practice saving and budgeting. Sadly, too many youth in Oakland are becoming adults without learning basic financial management skills.

Enter PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Three years ago, PwC contacted Children Rising about offering their Earn Your Future (EYF) financial literacy program to Oakland elementary students. We arranged for them to meet with staff at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary in West Oakland. The school warmly welcomed the EYF team who soon launched an interactive financial literacy curriculum for 3rd- to 5th-graders. Since then, PwC has offered the program at Prescott Elementary and Hoover Elementary, both also located in West Oakland.

When I looked in on the kick-off EYF session at Hoover in April, I was amazed when the instructors raised the subject of identity theft because I expected to see students’ eyes glaze over. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by the students’ insights and discussion. Hats off to PwC for investing in our Oakland youth!

Summer Volunteer Opportunities

By Children Rising
May 29, 2015

We’re off to a dynamic start! Mentors and Mentees are working together to unfold mentee hopes and dreams and, meanwhile, having fun at it. To learn more, contact

Today’s Youth Matter Summer Camps
Every year, Children Rising partners with Today’s Youth Matter to send 8- to 12-year-old girls and boys from low-income areas to a free summer camp at Tahoe Sierra Mountains near Truckee. For more info, email

Summer Reading Clinics (June 23 – July 16)
Reader tutors wanted! We are running a four-week summer reading clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-11 am. Students, 14 years and up, are welcome to volunteer. Contact

Free Summer Lunch Program Locations (June 15 – August 7)
The Alameda County Community Food Bank serves free lunches at various Oakland Public Library locations: Golden Gate, Main, Dimond, Cesar Chavez, Melrose, Elmhurst, Eastmont, 81st Avenue, and MLK branches. To help out, email

Hope For the Children Now Benefit Gala

By Children Rising
May 8, 2015

Community Partner: Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church

By Children Rising
May 8, 2015

Through their Creek Watering Oaks initiative, Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church (WCPC) inspires church members to serve vulnerable children in Oakland through partner organizations. On April 19th, the entire Sunday worship service and educational program focused on reaching “at-promise” youth living in Oakland. Children Rising was one of five partner organizations invited to participate, along with Points of Light, Harbor House, CityTeam, and Today’s Youth Matter. Pastor Larry Austin of Oakland City Church and the School of Urban Missions worship band led WCPC in Sunday worship.

After a rousing service, each partner organization spoke before the congregation, presenting opportunities to volunteer and serve. Church members were then free to speak individually with representatives of the organizations and identify ways to be engaged. The importance of community collaboration cannot be stressed enough. As Reverend Austin said in his sermon, “Programs make promises but it’s people who keep promises.”

President’s Corner: Jon Blankmeyer

By Children Rising
May 8, 2015

A Fond Farewell to Jon Blankmeyer

With bittersweet feelings, I must announce that one of our founding members is retiring from Children Rising’s Board of Directors. Jon Blankmeyer has served faithfully on the board for fourteen years – twelve years as board chair and two years as treasurer.

Jon and his dear wife Elaine came alongside my wife Diane and me back in May 2001. They provided encouragement and wise counsel as I, a local church pastor, stepped into the uncharted waters of a new calling, the nonprofit sector. Jon helped me recruit a handful of board members to launch a mission to give hope to disadvantaged students. In July of 2001, Children Rising was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) public benefit organization.
Two months later, Norman Brooks (Children Rising’s now-retired Science Horizons director) introduced Jon and me to our first principal, Roberta Teller of Burbank Elementary in East Oakland. This day is forever etched in my memory: September 13, only two days after the 9/11 attacks. Although we were strangers to her, Ms. Teller hugged and welcomed us saying, “I want my school to be a safe place.” In her office, Jon and I listened to Ms. Teller share her hopes for Burbank students and families. Then she began prioritizing needs and listing possible ways to address at least some of those needs. The Burbank maiden voyage would become a template for future school partnerships.

The Children Rising board and staff colleagues all join me in expressing profound thanks to Jon Blankmeyer for his servant leadership on behalf of vulnerable children and under-resourced schools. May God bless the Blankmeyers as they enter a new season of life and ministry.

Mission Springs

By Children Rising
May 8, 2015

By Lisa Oler, fifth-grade teacher at Burckhalter Elementary

In thirty-two years of teaching in Oakland, certain experiences with my classes have left me with a feeling of accomplishment and possibility. One of those recurring experiences has been to take my students to the Missions Springs Outdoor Education science camp every year. We visit the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains for three days of hiking and climbing, observing and investigating outdoor science. We get to know each other away from the distractions of urban modern life. The deep connections we make during that time usually last longer than anything else we do during the year. Former students who return to tell me what they are doing now, more often than not, ask me to take out the photos I keep tucked away specifically for these special visits. Those are the teaching experiences I treasure. Yes, the science is great. But what I value most are the joyful memories the children and I have built in Mission Springs.

First Missions Springs Camp, 2006

I'm Interested in Volunteering and would like more information