“CareerBridge Helped Me Go To College”

By Eric Steckel
September 21, 2018

by Nathan Talavera, CareerBridge Student

I am a recent graduate of the Ralph J. Bunche Academy in Oakland. This fall, I am enrolling in City College of Berkeley. But it’s not always been an easy path.

Nathan Talavera is awarded an Eddie Ashley Scholarship

The scholarship and MacBook Pro are going to help me realize my dream of going to Berkeley City College this fall.

I am the eldest of 5 kids in my family, and I’m responsible for being a role model. Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a police officer. I have always believed in doing the right thing and helping people. I know that being a police officer requires good academics, which has been a challenge for me. During my two and a half years at Oakland High School, I did not take school seriously. I skipped some of my classes, I started failing, and the pressure from my parents to go to college took a toll. I felt that I was not being a role model to my siblings and that I was disappointing my family.

“I wanted to more than just catch up.”

During my Junior year, I did not have enough credits to graduate; so I transferred to the Ralph J. Bunche Academy. I realized that this was my last chance. My teacher, Mr. Terrance Holliday, encouraged me, telling me he wanted me to succeed in life. That meant a lot. I worked hard and began catching up with my missing credits. But I wanted to do more than just catch up.

Nathan is a youth soccer referee.

CareerBridge – and refereeing soccer games – has helped build my confidence, in school and in life.

One day Mr. Holliday told me about CareerBridge. He said it would help me develop business and work skills, find internships, and reach my goal of being a police officer. That was when I met with Ms. Margena and Ms. Michelle and began taking the business essentials workshops. They helped me get an internship at CALTRANS, which was a great environment. I was most excited to tour the California Highway Patrol unit.

CareerBridge also linked me up with a career mentor, who met with me regularly. Mr. Steckel helped me focus on my strengths, and opened up scholarship and career networking opportunities. In June, I was awarded an Eddie Memorial Scholarship, which is going to help me pursue my dream of going to college.

Now that I have graduated, I am excited to start college and eager to enroll in a local police academy. I also want to find ways to give back. Recently I helped my friend get his referee license. I want to help anyone who is stuck academically and help them achieve their goals, just like I have been helped by my teachers, career mentor and Children Rising.


YES, I CAN help transform a child’s life. Let’s talk!

 I want to be a tutor or mentor this school year. Tell me more!

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs.


Path2Math Tutoring Program Set To Launch

By Eric Steckel
September 20, 2018

Volunteer Math Tutor Program a Partnership With Oakland Unified School District

As we settle into a new school year, Children Rising staff are feverishly putting the final touches to our program preparations and are eager to begin working with wonderful new students. This year, there is added excitement in the air as we launch our all-new volunteer math tutor program, Path2Math.

Path2Math Volunteer Math Tutor Program helps struggling second grade students learn math fluency

Path2Math is a unique volunteer math tutor program designed to help struggling second grade students learn math fluency.

For those of you paying close attention, you may be thinking, “Didn’t Children Rising offer math tutoring in the past?” Indeed, over the past several years, we responded to the request for math tutors in some of the schools served by our Succeeding by Reading program. What started out as a pilot program is now set to fully launch this year as Path2Math. We are extremely excited to come alongside many more struggling children and help them get back to grade level in their math skills.

However, Path2Math is unique and far more than just ‘scaling up’ our pilot math tutoring program. The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) told us that there was an unmet need to help struggling students with basic math fluency. Children Rising partnered closely with the OUSD to align the pilot program with the school district’s vision for mathematics. We have spent countless hours reviewing the district curriculum, studying Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, and doing math together, all to develop a program that responds to the needs of the OUSD and matches their vision for student learning. The result has been enthusiastically received by the schools.

Path2Math tutor Reto and Student

Path2Math tutor Reto and a student work on critical math skills. The goal is helping second grade students achieve math fluency.

Unlike other math programs, the focus of Path2Math is to develop foundational skills and critical decision-making that are crucial to long-term success in math. Similar to the importance of students developing reading literacy in the early years of elementary school, Path2Math helps second graders develop math fluency. In other words, it’s about far more than getting better grades. It’s about preparing a student for a life of learning.

Like all Children Rising programs, our ability to serve the children is dependent upon trained, caring volunteers taking the time to make a one-to-one connection over the course of the school year. We have received an outpouring of volunteer interest in Path2Math, but the need is great. If you have interest in becoming a math tutor this year, it’s not too late!

We will be hosting volunteer math tutor training sessions over the coming weeks. We invite you to attend a training and come alongside a struggling child this year.

Math Tutor Training
Friday, September 21
3-7:00 PM

Children Rising
2633 Telegraph Ave #412
Oakland, CA 94612

Margena Wade-Green

YES, I CAN help transform a child’s life. Let’s talk!


 I want to be a tutor or mentor this school year. Tell me more!

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs.

A Struggling Young Child Learned to Read

By Chelsea Boniak
September 19, 2018

A Reading Tutor – and a book about octopuses – helped ignite a passion for reading!

Soraida began the school year as a shy child who lacked confidence, struggling to learn and read in English. Soraida’s teachers helped partner her with a Succeeding by Reading tutor. However, after limited success with both English and Spanish communication, Soraida told her reading tutor, Diane, about her first teacher in her home country—a teacher who didn’t speak English or Spanish well. Puzzled, Diane eventually found out that Soraida’s first language was a regional, tribal language and she was learning English not as her second, but third language!

Soraida struggled to learn English, her third language. Her reading tutor, Diane, found a way to break through and learn to read in English.

Soraida was eager to learn to read in English, but Diane struggled to find ways to successfully communicate. After some experimentation, Diane found that Soraida was a tactile learner, and thrived by touching and doing. The two worked together, building their relationship and Soraida’s confidence by completing puzzles, workbooks, and activities where neither one of them had all the answers.

“Who would have thought that our common language would be octopus?”

During one tutoring session, Soraida found a picture of an octopus and lit up, telling Diane she wished they had an octopus book. Inspired, Diane set out on a lengthy search at her local library to find a book about octopuses that the two could read together. A bilingual octopus book in English and Spanish proved to be a turning point for the pair, igniting Soraida’s curiosity and confidence.

A reading tutor and a book about octopuses ignited a struggling student's love of reading.

A children’s book about octopuses helped to ignite Soaraida’s love of reading… in English.

Soraida began to take ownership over her learning—identifying words she knew, thought she knew, or wanted to learn. Diane was delighted to see Soraida gaining so much confidence. Over the course of the school year, Soraida opened up to Diane about her family, their story, and their struggles. It took almost an entire school year of one-on-one tutoring sessions with Diane for Soraida to come out of her shell.

Thanks to her tutor’s weekly time and attention, Soraida made a breakthrough. Now, she is set up for even greater success this school year and is positioned to catch up to her peers!

YES, I CAN help transform a child’s life. Let’s talk!

 I want to be a tutor or mentor this school year. Tell me more!

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs.

The World of Math is Open to Emiliano

By Chelsea Boniak
September 13, 2018

One-to-one math tutor helps a struggling student catch up to his fellow students

Like many of the students in our Path2Math and Succeeding by Reading intervention programs, Emiliano lacked confidence as he entered his 5th grade math class.

“They think they can’t do the work. In their mind they’re not as smart as the other kids,” Emiliano’s math tutor, Steve, said. In reality, though, they can do it—they just need someone to spend some time with them individually and take things a little slower.

For Emiliano, it wasn't about "getting better grades." His math tutor helped him catch up to his fellow students.

For Emiliano, it wasn’t about “getting better grades.” His one-to-one math tutor Steve helped him understand basic math and catch up to his fellow students.

Steve remembers his tutoring sessions with Emiliano fondly. Beginning his sessions feeling discouraged, Emiliano quickly gained confidence in himself and his skills. When he understood something, Emiliano’s whole face would light up as he excitedly said, “Okay, I got this!” From there, he was able to finish the rest of the problems on his own. Steve recalls, “You can see the joy in these kids’ lives and their faces when they finally get it.”

“I am actually happy to be improving in math.”

This success, repeated again and again throughout the year, built Emiliano’s confidence. He stopped thinking he couldn’t do math—instead, he got excited about improving.

A math tutor coming alongside a struggling student.

By coming alongside a struggling student, you give them the confidence to learn and succeed now and in the future.

Emiliano attributes much of his success to Steve, saying he is the best math tutor. Steve argues that he is not, in fact, the world’s best math tutor—he’s just there, he’s committed, and he cares. Emiliano had it in him all along, as do all of the students referred to our programs. The most important part of successful tutoring is the time spent and relationships built with each child, building up a foundation of trust so students like Emilio begin to believe they are capable and full of promise.

“I feel amazed at how I have improved,” Emiliano proudly reported. “This has been a real important thing for me because this has helped me improve in math a lot.” Emilio is excited about his future and finding ways that math is involved in his career goals to be an engineer or a mechanic.

YES, I CAN help transform a child’s life. Let’s talk!

 I want to be a tutor or mentor this school year. Tell me more!

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs.


Volunteer Tutor: It’s NOT JUST About Getting Better Grades!

By Jim Wambach
September 11, 2018

Perspectives article by Jim Wambach, Executive Director

“When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts.”       ~Dalai Lama

Dear Children Rising Community,

As you can see from the personal stories we have shared throughout the year, our programs are not just about helping children develop key reading, math and life skills. Our programs offer children hope and the ability to escape the vicious cycle of poverty and violence.

Children Rising’s volunteer tutor and mentor programs foster an important one-to-one relationship that develops between a child and a caring adult. This relationship, based on trust and reliability, is transformative. This relationship is as much about caring and “being there” as it is about learning to read or developing math skills. It proves to a child that he or she truly matters and is important. 

One-to-one volunteer tutor relationships are transformative.

One-to-one volunteer tutors not only help a child learn reading or math skills. They develop a caring, transformative relationship that proves to a child that they are truly important and matter.

This in turn builds a child’s self-confidence and renews energy that fuels his or her desire to learn. When that happens, limitations to learning dissolve and a transformational miracle begins to unfold.

This is not just about helping children get better grades – it is about the transformative power of relationship!

For many of us when we think of tutoring, we may think of the extra support it takes to get a student from a “B” to an “A.” Tutoring may seem like a luxury, a “nice to have” for the child that receives the tutoring. But for the children we serve, tutoring means so much more than that.

We know in schools just a few miles away from each other in our community, there is a world of difference in student’s opportunities and prospects. We know 25-50% of the children in low-income neighborhood schools will experience trauma from adverse childhood events. We also know that “It is crystal clear that relationships are the counterpoint to traumatic stress in childhood.” Dr. Bruce Perry (Senior Fellow of the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas)

This school year, we need your help as we expand our efforts to support more children. Of the 4,000 OUSD 3rd graders that just began school, as many as 1,800 will test substantially below grade level in math and reading at the end of the school year.

Becoming a volunteer tutor or mentor actually opens up the opportunity to develop an important, life-changing relationship with a child. Please invite your friends, neighbors and co-workers to join us—they might just find that their life is changed too! Because this is not just about helping children get better grades – it is about the transformative power of relationship!

YES, I CAN help transform a child’s life. Let’s talk!

 I want to be a tutor or mentor this school year. Tell me more!

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs.

I'm Interested in Volunteering and would like more information