FN Mentors Awarded for Public Service

By Children Rising
October 27, 2015

In the July edition of our newsletter, we spotlighted Oakland students who won third place in a robotics competition at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). Now it’s their mentors’ turn.

Mark and Joanne Perra, retired scientists and Children Rising volunteers, were recently presented with the Jefferson Award* for Public Service by KPIX, the Bay Area CBS television station. The Perras were nominated for their work in launching the first-ever programming and robotics course at Roosevelt Middle School in Oakland.

It all started when, a few years ago, Mark and Joanne attended an innovative C-STEM (Computer-Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) education conference at UC Davis. They wondered if Oakland schools could tap into the curriculum, which cultivates logical thinking using coding and programming. Children Rising and the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) worked with the Perras to launch the C-STEM course at Roosevelt last year. It was a success and will be taught again this year. Among other things, the students learn to program small robots to dance in sync!

Children Rising is grateful for Mark and Joanne’s work with Oakland children and congratulates them on this well-deserved recognition.

To watch the news clip and read the KPIX article,
*The Jefferson Awards Foundation is a national nonprofit that strives to build a culture of service in the United States. Their media partners, KPIX among them, celebrate local heroes nominated from the community.

Championing Our Children Matching Challenge

By Children Rising
October 27, 2015

Don’t forget that every dollar you give in the month of November will be matched to double its impact!
Help us reach our goal to match $35,000 pledged by generous donors.
All funds raised will go toward invigorating Children Rising’s academic and enrichment programs: Succeeding by Reading, Health4Kids, Science Horizons and CareerBridge.

Give to the Matching Challenge here!

President’s Corner: Urgent Need for Reading Tutors

By Children Rising
October 27, 2015

Way too many Oakland kids from low-income families are slipping through the cracks because they lack reading skills. When Children Rising first launched in 2001, 70% of Oakland’s third-graders were reading below grade level. Now in 2015, 60% are reading below grade level. Oakland has made progress, but the percentage is still intolerable.

Basic literacy skills will go a long way towards interrupting generational poverty while potentially creating new legacies for generations to come. Our 20 Excel Reading Clinics currently serve about 200 students. We have the capacity to reach an additional 100 students if we recruit 50 more volunteer tutors.

Please consider joining me and our growing team of reading tutors. And recruit a friend to join you. As a reading tutor, your task is to inspire a child to become a successful reader. The time commitment is two or more hours per week during school hours. We provide training and on-site support and guidance.

For me personally, tutoring second-graders one-on-one at Prescott Elementary is the highlight of my week. Today I asked my tutee Jennifer how she felt about our reading clinic experience. She replied, “Learning is fun!”

Some next steps
• Contact Rebecca Buckley,
• Complete the registration process, which includes a TB assessment and
live scan background check.
• Attend a November training session at the Children Rising office:

Saturday, November 7
9:00-11:30 am

Tuesday, November 17
3:30-6:00 pm

Thank you for considering my appeal. I’m emboldened by this scriptural injunction: “You have not because you ask not” (James 4:3).

Shalom, Oakland!

The Need for Library Services

By Children Rising
October 1, 2015

by Kim Farnham-Flom, Director of Library Services

Courtesy of Babuljak Photography

Years ago, I walked into a school to be a
literacy tutor. In Oakland public schools, only one-third of third-grade students were reading at grade level and at this particular school, the percentage was even less. Peering through the window of a locked door, I saw dusty books with old publishing dates, discarded technical equipment, and other signs of a room used for storage. The door was labeled “Library.”

At our Excel Reading clinics, students look forward to working with their caring tutors on improving their reading ability. However, they go home to communities where books are not readily available. Visits to public libraries require busy parents to escort students through a community challenged by violence. The school library is supposed to be the safety net for access to books. Unfortunately, due to limited funding, a school with a closed library is not uncommon in the Oakland Unified School District.

Courtesy of Babuljak Photography

For ten years, Children Rising has provided equity for students in schools with limited resources by opening school libraries for weekly class visits. Serving in over fifteen schools, our volunteers check out 3,500 books to students every week. Recently released data shows that reading scores among Oakland third-graders have improved, but are still unacceptably low. Our goal is that all our students develop adequate reading skills and have consistent access to quality books.

If you would like to volunteer at a school library, email

Volunteer Spotlight: Elaine Chan and Marian McGaw

By Children Rising
October 1, 2015

Celebrating Children Rising volunteers Elaine Chan and Marian McGaw who are starting their tenth academic year of service.

Elaine Chan

I started volunteering at Laurel because a message at our Women’s Bible Study challenged me to step outside my comfort zone at about the same time that there was a church announcement about volunteer opportunities at Laurel. I like to think that the time I spend shelving books at Laurel helps maintain an environment where kids will be able to find the books they want to or need to read and hopefully grow to love reading.

Marian McGaw

I love the opportunity to connect children with books, especially when we have new stories and non-fiction materials to offer. I’m excited when I’ve succeeded in introducing new information into an open mind. And keeping the place organized satisfies my preference for order. In truth I must admit that volunteering in the library meets a lot of my needs even as I help others.

President’s Corner: Welcome Aboard, Jonathan!

By Children Rising
October 1, 2015

Jonathan Mayes

With enthusiasm I’m happy to announce that long-time friend and supporter Jonathan Mayes has joined Children Rising’s Board of Directors. He will provide wise counsel and help us continue to network community resources, given his extensive corporate-philanthropic background and keen understanding of the challenges that confront our low-income minority youth.

Currently Jonathan serves as Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Government Relations, Philanthropy & Corporate Social Responsibility for Albertsons Companies, Inc.. One of America’s largest grocery and pharmacy chains, Albertsons operates over 2,200 stores under 18 different banners in 34 states and D.C. The company employs over 265,000 individuals.

Jonathan received his Juris Doctorate degree in 1987 from Willamette University College of Law, where he received the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award. Jonathan has been honored by the Bay Area Minority Bar Coalition and the Charles Houston Bar Association for his exemplary service to the legal community. He also has been honored as Warner Pacific College’s Alumnus of the Year, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1978.

While paying him a visit at his corporate office in Pleasanton, I overheard one of his colleagues call Jonathan a “Renaissance Man”. Besides his business-legal-corporate prowess, Jonathan runs ultramarathons, participates in Ironman triathlons, plays piano, bass, violin, guitar, and for many years was worship band leader at his church, Bay Farm Community in Alameda. Jonathan is married to his best friend and wife, Varetta Mayes, former Children Rising Volunteer Director.

Welcome aboard, Jonathan!
Randy Roth, President

Welcome, Ms. Deborah Davis!

By Children Rising
October 1, 2015

Ms. Deborah Davis has joined our staff this school year as an Excel Reading Clinic Coordinator. A native of Ohio, Deborah began her teaching career as an Urban Teacher Corps intern in Washington D.C., simultaneously teaching and earning her credential.

Following a move to the Bay Area, Deborah taught at the elementary as well as the community college level, earning two Master’s Degrees along the way. As a teacher at Piedmont Avenue and Markham, she developed a passion for equipping primary grade students to become enthusiastic readers. Later, she served as principal at Garfield Elementary in San Leandro and Parker Elementary in Oakland.

Deborah and her husband Bruce have one son, who lives in New York, and two grandchildren. Deborah’s hobbies include flower arranging and home decorating; Bruce is an avid fisherman, home repair and landscape expert.

We are delighted that Deborah is on our team and we look forward to a wonderful year!

Rebecca Buckley,
Director of Succeeding by Reading

Tutor Training Dates

By Children Rising
October 1, 2015

Monday, October 5
10:30 am – 12:00 pm
at Children Rising Office

To RSVP, contact Margena Wade-Green,

Saturday, October 10
9:00-11:30 am
at Children Rising Office

Wednesday, October 21
3:30-6:00 pm
at Children Rising Office

Saturday, November 7
9:00-11:30 am
at Children Rising Office

To RSVP Rebecca Buckley,

I'm Interested in Volunteering and would like more information