President’s Corner: The Literacy Crisis

By Children Rising
November 10, 2016

piedmont-ave-studentEarly childhood literacy is a national issue that will directly impact the future vitality and economic well-being of our communities and our country as a whole. Fourth graders shown to be reading “below basic” are four times more likely to drop out of high school – hindering their chances to live a healthy, productive life. According to US Department of Education, 60 percent of America’s prison inmates are illiterate and 85 percent of all juvenile offenders have reading deficiencies.

Closer to home, some 60 percent of second graders in the Oakland Unified School District read below grade level. If struggling students do not receive effective interventions early, they are less likely to become proficient by the fourth grade. Children Rising’s Succeeding by Reading (SbR) initiative makes possible what our dedicated teachers wish they could do but can’t: provide one-on-one literacy tutoring, which combines a caring relationship with personalized strategies that produce evidence-based results. Sixty-five percent of the students enrolled in Excel Reading Clinics advance by two or more grade levels by the end of the school year. Having learned to read they can now read to learn. Reading proficiently with understanding is the goal – resulting in kids becoming lifelong learners and productive citizens.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Join our growing team of Excel Reading Clinic tutors. Your personal investment of one to two hours almost any day of the week can literally change the trajectory of a child’s life. And the life that’s changed may also be your own! Children Rising is an Oakland education nonprofit that provides the training and ongoing support for you to be a successful literacy tutor. Contact Rebecca Buckley at or call Pearl Wang at (510) 836-5100 to become a reading volunteer.
  • Support our Second Matching Fund Campaign. We must have the necessary funds to employ a professional staff so that our volunteer tutors have the ongoing training and support they need to be effective and efficient. Additional funds are required to purchase an array of leveled books, literacy materials and student workbooks, and that’s in addition to volunteer screening expenses. Every dollar received this month will be matched by generous donors who have pledged $60,000 to our Matching Challenge Fund. The challenge is to raise the additional $60,000 by November 30 to reach our Matching Fund goal of $120,000. Please visit to make a donation.

Your partnership is essential to Children Rising’s mission of preparing today’s youth for fulfilling, productive living in the 21st century. Every investment will be a gift that keeps on giving – yielding returns for generations to come.

 Article written by Randy Roth, Children Rising president

Change A Child’s Life (and Your Own)

By Children Rising
November 2, 2016

After teaching students for over 30 years, Vivian received a most unexpected gift.

“A dear friend and I were walking our favorite trail in Lafayette, out in the fresh air and experiencing God’s nature,” she explains. “Kim had been tutoring students, and asked me to join her. She just knew how much being with children and working with children fed my soul, and urged me to join her.”

That first encounter with Kim was just a little seed.

Vivian and student“It was a simple invitation, but it had big meaning for me.” Vivian accepted the invitation to be a reading tutor, and began tutoring second and third grade students in the Oakland Unified School District that fall. Her first students were already two years behind in their reading skills, but Children Rising ’s Succeeding by Reading program was so well organized, she was ready to step in and immediately make an impact.

“That first day tutoring really set the stage for my anticipation and encouragement to come back and to be a part of that wonderful organization,” Vivian explained.

Not every week is not easy though…

img_7825Some days the kids just aren’t ready to learn. They’ve forgotten their material, or they’ve come to the session out of sorts, or they’re hungry and irritable. “There are days, and weeks, when it’s really hard to have the children focus, and to feel like you’re making some progress with them,” Vivian explains. “It can be difficult, whether you have been a teacher or not.” She is quick to point out the importance of the training that Children Rising provides, and the comradery of her fellow tutors.

“Sometimes it’s really helpful to have a chance to talk to the other tutors, or to the program director. They help overcome some hurdle that you, or the student, can’t quite get beyond. And to know that each week is another step in their lives, and in yours too.”

“It will give you a new purpose and joy in life working with them.”

“To have one-on-one time with a child is a rare privilege,” says Vivian. “They’re little sponges that soak up not just what you’re teaching them but how you’re loving them. It’s a great privilege to have those children that God gives me time with, and their progress by the end of the year is remarkable.”

Tutoring is truly a highlight of her week, and Vivian can’t wait to meet the next child she will tutor in the upcoming school year.

Your gift will help us accomplish our goal…and improve reading proficiency in Oakland Public Schools.

This fall we’ve embarked on our Second Matching Fund Campaign.  We’re seeking to match $60,000 pledged by major donors. The challenge is to raise an additional $60,000 by November 30 to reach our Matching Fund goal of $120,000.

The hundreds of donors and volunteers who support Children Rising are helping underperforming students reach their potential. Your financial gift helps loving tutors like Vivian make a difference in the lives of  at-promise youth.

You can send your check via snail mail (note Challenge Fund on the memo line) to the address below, or you can donate online by going to:

Article by Eric Steckel, Turnpike Digital

Thank you to…

By Children Rising
November 2, 2016

… everyone who made our WIZdom of God production a success!

To First Covenant Church for allowing us to use your space and equipment.

To Gwen and Paul Stephens, and all the cast members for making the musical a labor of love.

To Ms. Nzuri and the Nzuri Soul Band for your terrific musical accompaniment.

To the Crystalette singers, the children’s choir, and the Sound and Tech Team for your hard work and support.

We are also deeply grateful to those of you who donated money to CareerBridge and those of you who signed up to become CareerBridge mentors.


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