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

Subscribe to our newsletter