Perspectives: Build on the Positive, Build on the Love

By Children Rising
July 28, 2017

Dear Children Rising Community,

I am excited to become a part of this wonderful community. I’m also humbled to be in a position to build upon what you’ve accomplished over 16 years of supporting the children in the East Bay.

Children Rising’s service in the East Bay is made possible through good relationships with donors, volunteers, and prayer warriors like you, and with those in positions of authority like school districts, administrators, and teachers. Most importantly, Children Rising’s effectiveness is anchored in the one-to-one relationships developed by our volunteer tutors and mentors with their students. As our founder Randy Roth once observed: “Programs don’t change kid’s lives, people do.”

Our relationship, the one between you and me, is just beginning. It’s a relationship that I hope will not only be deep and enduring, but will also enable us all to reach more children in increasingly meaningful and impactful ways. To get us started, I’d like to share a bit about myself.

I’m married to a beautiful woman, Sophia, who is a certified dementia care specialist. We have four wonderful children, two fantastic sons-in-law and five even more fantastic grandchildren (three of whom arrived within the last eight months!). My parents, in their early 70s, founded a faith-based school in Cincinnati. Like Children Rising, this school was and continues to be a story of faith within a community focused on supporting young people.

I know how important it is to grow up in an environment with a lot of community support, including intergenerational support. I believe in God’s grace in using an organization like Children Rising in the community from having personally witnessed it over many years. These personal convictions, combined with my deep passion for continuing to serve the community, have brought me to Children Rising.

To quote from Randy’s retirement message:
“With your sustained support, encouragement, and prayers, Children Rising can and will go deeper and wider in its outreach to at-promise children and youth.”

I’m grateful to be a part of your community and I look forward to meeting all of you in the near future.

For the children,

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Ode to Children Rising Volunteers

By Children Rising
July 28, 2017

How do we appreciate thee? Let us count the ways:
Thank you for taking part in Children Rising’s mission of supporting at-promise children
Thank you for serving behind the scenes by stuffing envelopes and moving furniture
Thank you for the expertise and experience you impart to your high school mentee
Thank you for gently reining in grade school students as they learn to code
Thank you for your patience when she is distracted and cannot concentrate
Thank you for celebrating when he memorizes an entire box of sight words
Thank you for encouraging him when he cannot understand multiplication
Thank you for the attention you freely give so she can read that one word
Thank you for the eyes that light up when you show up week after week
Thank you for your heart for the children of Oakland and the East Bay
Thank you for your willingness to assemble food bags every month
Thank you for your dedication and teamwork and camaraderie
Thank you for the time you set aside to serve
Thank you for your grace and good humor
Thank you for making learning fun
Thank you for all this and more

Above all, we thank God for YOU!

(Who were our 2016-2017 Children Rising volunteers? Click here to find out!)

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Welcome Jim Wambach, Executive Director!

By Chelsea Boniak
July 9, 2017

Children Rising is delighted to announce the selection of James Wambach as our new Executive Director. He is married to Sophia and together, they have 4 children and 5 grandchildren. Jim is passionate about serving youth in the East Bay community in the hopes of dramatically and positively affecting the trajectory of their lives.

Six years ago, Jim left his highly successful career in technology expressly to dedicate his energy to serving vulnerable individuals within our community. He founded and managed Sesen Elder Care and helped initially develop Foster City Village, a nonprofit that supports seniors with resources and volunteers. He later served as its President of Board of Directors and acting Executive Director. Under Jim’s leadership, Foster City Village experienced significant growth.

Family photo from Jim and Sophia’s recent wedding

In his former life as a technology executive, Jim distinguished himself in a variety of roles such as CEO, COO, and VP of Sales. He has led teams of over 100 people. Some of his many strengths include strategic management, coaching and mentoring, team building, and financial management.

Jim will be stepping into the shoes of Randy Roth, who founded Children Rising 16 years ago as an outreach to Oakland’s vulnerable kids and under-resourced schools. Under Randy’s clear vision and exemplary leadership, Children Rising grew from serving one school to serving over 30 schools, impacting the lives of 2,500 students thanks to our highly-capable staff and hundreds of dedicated volunteers. Over the years, Children Rising has expanded our initial program Succeeding by Reading and added three more to serve Oakland youth: Health4Kids, Science Horizons and CareerBridge.

When Randy announced his plans to retire, our board formed a search team to select the next Executive Director. They made sure to keep one of our founding principles in mind:

 “Children Rising is committed to continuity and therefore strives to sustain what we start, to count the cost and to build a mission that will outlast its founders.”

Children Rising is grateful for Jim’s leadership as we begin this new chapter.  We look forward to you getting to know him, and thank you for your continued support. We also wish once again to acknowledge and thank our founder and leader Randy Roth for these past 16 years. We wish him and his wife Diane the very best of health, joy, and peace as they begin their own new chapter in life.


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President’s Corner: Transition Time

By Children Rising
July 5, 2017

As many of you know, I am retiring from serving as Children Rising’s president as of June 30, 2017. It’s time for fresh vision, energetic enthusiasm, and discerning wisdom for Children Rising to move into the next level of mission impact.

During this time of transition, one of our founding principles comes to mind: “Children Rising is committed to continuity and therefore strives to sustain what we start, to count the cost and to build a mission that will outlast its founders.” Our Executive Director search team has taken this to heart and will make an announcement soon regarding my successor.

With your sustained support, encouragement, and prayers, Children Rising can and will go deeper and wider in its outreach to at-promise children and youth. My wife Diane joins me in expressing heartfelt appreciation for 16 years of fruitful, fulfilling ministry. We will miss our day-to-day direct involvement, but we won’t retire from supporting Children Rising in other ways.

My years of service here have led me to this heartfelt conviction: You can craft impressive programs, but programs don’t change kids’ lives, people do. Pairing a child with a caring, attentive, and positive adult role model has the potential of changing the trajectory of that child’s life.

At our Excel Reading Clinic closing celebrations, students receive certificates of achievement and positive feedback from their tutors. The students then get the opportunity to say something about their tutors. I’ll never forget the second grade girl who looked out on the entire tutoring team and blurted: “When I get older, I want to marry all of you!” This was her way of saying, You’re my extended family.

This is the heart of Children Rising: We are an extended family to hundreds of children, thanks to the tutors and mentors who walk beside them, cheering them on, holding a crown before them and watching them grow into it – all of which is made possible by generous financial donors.

Together, we can. Together we will make Hope for Children Now a reality for vulnerable children in Oakland and throughout the East Bay. So here’s my challenge:

Get involved, stay involved, recruit others to join this great and urgent cause. Our children are our future!

For the children,

Founder of Children Rising

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2017 Benefit Gala Highlights

By Children Rising
July 5, 2017





Children Rising’s annual Hope for Children Now Benefit Gala took place on June 3, 2017 at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland.

The talented Westlake Middle School Jazz Ensemble (far left photo) provided great music as 300-some guests arrived. During the program, we were honored to meet newly-selected OUSD Superintendent Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell (second left photo) who had stirring words for our community and who further affirmed her commitment to Oakland’s children. (See the June newsletter to learn more about Dr. Johnson-Trammell.)

As a second-grader at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary (MLK), Carlissa Blincoe (center photo) was several grade levels behind on reading. So her teacher signed her up to receive tutoring at the Excel Reading Clinic. Now a fifth-grader, Carlissa demonstrated her reading ability for us on stage. She has also attended our Science Horizons STEAM lab at MLK every year.

Among other surprises, a resolution from California Senator Nancy Skinner’s office was presented in Randy’s honor.

After keeping us and the three applicants in suspense, Director of CareerBridge Margena Wade-Green revealed that all three high school students would each receive the $5,000 Eddie College Scholarship. Congratulations, Gracie Donovan, Quaylin Wesley, and J’Mya Gray-Martinez (far right photo). You deserve this!

We’re happy to report that, thanks to your generous donations, we met and exceeded our fundraising goal of $110,000. Thank you again!

Special thanks to our corporate sponsors: Branagh Construction, Kensington Veterinary Hospital, Union Bank, Dreams Los Cabos, PwC, and Kaiser Permanente. To our gala volunteers, your help was invaluable. The gala could not have been a success without you. Thank you!

Click here to see more pictures from the gala.

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