A Time to Plant

By Sophia Wambach
January 29, 2018

As I’m sure you’ve noticed from our previous newsletters, we’ve been adding to our staff. What’s amazing is that God has sent every one of these wonderful and talented people our way in response to our expressed needs.

Here are a few more new faces!


Pam P. May is our Program Coordinator with Children Rising’s Science Horizons Math Tutoring program. She has a Master of Arts degree from the University of Phoenix in Organizational Management, a Bachelor of Science from the University of Washington, and a Public Service Leadership Certificate from U.C. Berkeley Extension. Her varied career includes communications and marketing, business development, as well as education and training. Pam has been steadily strengthening our math curriculum, exploring effective methods of teaching math, networking with community partners, and working on growing our team of math tutors.


Jessie Palmatier is our Finance and Administration Assistant, lending her skills to the areas of financial development and office management. She is a Bay Area transplant who fell in love with the East Bay while serving in urban missions in college. She has a degree in Youth Ministry and has spent the last several years working with teenagers in the foster care system in Upstate New York. Thanks to Jessie, we’ve been to able to accomplish a few long overdue projects and it’s been less than one month since she has been hired!


Eric Steckel, our Communications Manager, is actually not a new face in our office! He was appointed after a long period of volunteering and mentoring youth at Children Rising . He brings a wealth of experience in both traditional and digital communications. Eric is a graduate of Bucknell University and holds a Master’s Degree in Communication from the American University in Washington, D.C. Prior to Children Rising, he served as the communications manager at Catholic Charities of the East Bay. In the last 6 months, Eric has enhanced our fundraising communications. In addition, he is developing our digital and social media presence and is working on making our newsletter more streamlined and informative.

As you can see, our new hires are already bearing fruit and we are excited for what God has planned for us and the East Bay!

If you’d like to meet all of our current staff, visit


Children Rising staff: (top row) Rebecca Buckley, Jim Wambach, Rebekah Wilson, Eric Steckel, Dave Sundman, Ashley Verinsky, Margena Wade-Green, Michelle Hutcherson, Charlotte Martinez, (bottom row) Gwen Stephens, Brenda Paulin, Kim Farnham-Flom, Pearl Wang, Chelsea Boniak, Pam May, Carolyn Piraino

A Time to Build Up

By Children Rising
January 27, 2018

by Jim Wambach, Executive Director

Children Rising is in the midst of an exciting season as 2018 begins.  Building on the program benefits realized by the many “at-promise” children in our community during the last several school years, we are aggressively investing in our ability to both enhance these programs and to make it possible to serve even more children.

This is a particularly important time for us to have a heightened focus on enhanced programming and expanding the delivery of our programs. When the school year began, we were aware that the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), the primary district we support, was facing serious budgetary challenges. Since then, a $9 million budget reduction for the current school year has been implemented. This further reduces funding at the individual school sites, driving up already stressed student-teacher ratios while greatly reducing – and even eliminating – additional student support services.


Students at the STEAM Lab at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School


The many OUSD schools we serve clearly need more of our support as they work through these key fiscal challenges over the next several years. We stand poised to provide additional help to the schools that are feeling the stress. Accordingly, our board agreed on a budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year that allowed for an additional investment of $125,000 into our programs, a significant portion of our overall budget.

Over the past 6 months we have grown our program staffing levels in order to increase both our capacity for program development and our ability to support more children. Our entire staff has been working diligently to enhance program content, improve learning tools, and improve program benefit measurements – all while continuing to support our 300 wonderful volunteers who are helping more than 1,100 children in over 25 schools!

We are excited about this time of growth and, with continued prayers and the support of our community, we hope to be able to provide more benefits to more of Oakland’s at-promise children in the coming months and years.

6 CareerBridge Students Celebrate Graduation From Ralph J. Bunche Academy

By Eric Steckel
January 22, 2018

As in life, there is no single path to a fulfilling career. Pursuing a career path that aligns your values and your passions is a very good place to start. As our CareerBridge program enters its fourth year at the Ralph J. Bunche Academy in West Oakland, we have witnessed many Oakland youth start down their own personal career path with excitement and confidence. 

CareerBridge Student celebrates Ralph J. Bunche Academy graduation

Valedictorian Yasmine Lewis – with the Red CareerBridge sash – celebrates her graduation.

The Bunche Academy is a unique educational environment that cultivates and nurtures young scholars in a Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation (HTR) curriculum. Just as importantly, it is “grounded in the values of service, leadership, and connection.” The concepts of service, leadership and connection align perfectly with Children Rising’s mission to prepare today’s youth for a life of serving others and contributing positively to their communities.

This year, after listening and responding to the needs of Principal Betsye Steele, we added a Business Administrative Certification Workshop. Students were able to take a 24-hour series of classes to earn credit, experience hands-on learning, and receive special recognition at their graduation. After students complete our Business Essentials Workshops, they are offered an internship opportunity. Because of the skills they’ve learned, they are more confident, prepared, and have a better chance to be successful. It also offers students a glimpse of themselves in a workplace. 

At the conclusion of our last BAC workshop, our student Ashley Price said, “Thank you for today. I knew business was something I needed to learn, but I didn’t know how I was going to get it and I know now why I need to understand it.”

Of the 18 students in this year’s winter graduating class, there were six students in particular who displayed extraordinary confidence at their graduation ceremony. Their caps and gowns were complimented by distinct red sashes indicating that they had completed our CareerBridge BAC Workshops. Each of these six students, including Valedictorian Yasmine Lewis, learned skills that they will carry with them in their prospective college and career pursuits. 

“This past semester we’ve seen lives and attitudes change for the better,” explains Margena Wade-Green, Director of CareerBridge. “Some students begin our classes with no idea of what their futures could be, the difference between a job and a career and furthermore, no clue of the concepts of ‘business.’ ”

We are proud to be a part of the community that has supported their growth into the exceptional young adults that they are today, and we are excited to see what the future holds for them.

We encourage you to volunteer in our Career Bridge program as a mentor or by hosting a summer intern. Just 1 hour per week in spring and summer can help a young adult prepare for their crucial final years of high school. We provide the training. You provide the wisdom.

Happy Holidays!

By Children Rising
January 4, 2018

Children Rising staff: (top row) Rebecca Buckley, Jim Wambach, Rebekah Wilson, Eric Steckel, Dave Sundman, Ashley Verinsky, Margena Wade-Green, Michelle Hutcherson, Charlotte Martinez, (bottom row) Gwen Stephens, Brenda Paulin, Kim Farnham-Flom, Pearl Wang, Chelsea Boniak, Pam May, Carolyn Piraino


Dear Children Rising Community,

Together we are making a difference for so many “at-promise” children! In the 5 short months since I joined this wonderful community, I find myself grateful each day to be able to join all of you in this wonderful mission.

All of us at Children Rising wish each of you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a New Year guided by Faith, Hope, and Love – and filled with good health, peace, and joy!

For the Children,


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