Your Commitment To Tutor Training Helps Our Students!

By Chelsea Boniak
March 19, 2019

Tutor Training helps you provide crucial, one-to-one learning to vulnerable students.

When you gather together in small groups for Tutor Training, you learn from one another and are better prepared to help students succeed in school.

How you helped vulnerable students catch up

A few weeks ago, our normally quiet office was buzzing with activity as impromptu tutor training sessions began—supplies were gathered, coffee brewed, and tutors arrived. During this time, the teachers in Oakland schools were on strike. This brought our clinics to a temporary halt while we waited with the rest of the city for the stoppage to be resolved. Like many of you, we stood by wondering, “How will the vulnerable students who are already behind catch up?”

Despite the strike, our dedicated volunteer tutors responded to our call. Instead of taking the week off, they used the time they would have otherwise spent working with children in the school to attend tutor training to improve their skills and techniques.

Over the course of five days, tutors came in small groups to learn from their clinic coordinators, program staff, and one another. Succeeding by Reading staff led breakout sessions on phonics, sight words, and reading. Volunteers shared success stories and struggles alike, and worked through them as a team.

Program Director Rebecca Buckley noted, “Our time at school sites is very focused and very limited. There is no real time for discussion about particular students, particular challenges, particular materials.” The impromptu tutor training gave volunteers and staff an opportunity to come together and spend time thinking about questions and challenges, share ideas, and make space for extended dialog about what is happening week to week in the reading clinics.

Despite the strike, YOU took the time to improve your skills and techniques to help students who are even further behind.

When the strike was resolved, our tutors went back to their clinics better equipped to help children who had fallen even further behind. One tutor reported, “I now have a clear idea of how to build on the child’s level of understanding.” Another thanked us, saying “I learned more about how to organize my student sessions based on their needs.”

Rebecca Buckley provides tutor training at Children Rising

“Our time at school sites is very focused and very limited. There is no real time for discussion about particular students, particular challenges, particular materials.” – Rebbeca Buckley, SbR Program Director

Even seasoned tutors learned a lot: “Even though I’ve been tutoring for a while, I learned better use of tools and gained deeper understanding of reading concepts and methods of teaching.” She also noted it was “very helpful…to hear other tutors’ stories and struggles with students.”

This is all part of our effort to provide our volunteers a new vocation. Tutoring struggling students who may already be two grade levels behind does not come naturally to most. However, Children Rising ’s goal is to set our tutors up to succeed, whether you are a first timer or you’ve been doing this for ten-plus years, as some of our veterans have.

As we continue on through the rest of the school year, our tutors are re-invigorated and even more prepared to help their students succeed. And we will continue to offer tutor training sessions so that our tutors continue to provide crucial, one-to-one learning to vulnerable students.

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


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

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs.

CareerBridge Students Share Holiday Sweetness to Support Summer Internship in Oakland

By Chelsea Boniak
March 12, 2019

Bunches of Sweetness funds summer internship in Oakland

Thank you for giving the gift of ‘Sweetness’… and the opportunity for youth to learn how to grow a business and fund a summer internship in Oakland.

Summer Internship in Oakland: Important for Career Development

Who doesn’t like a little holiday treat at Christmas? This holiday season, CareerBridge partnered with Ralph J. Bunche Academy High School in West Oakland to organize a tasty enterprise combining the efforts of CareerBridge Entrepreneurship Training Program students and the Ralph Bunche Culinary Arts Program. Bunches of Sweetness was an amazing opportunity for students to get first-hand experience running a student-led business and support opportunities for a summer internship in Oakland.

Bunche Academy students worked with Chef David Isenberg to create a classic product that captured the essence of the holiday season: chocolate peppermint bark, combining the smoothness of white and semi-sweet chocolates with the crunch of crushed peppermint sticks.

CareerBridge students then worked together to create a business plan that included marketing and fundraising strategies, accounting, and holiday gift packaging design. Students advertised to their friends, family and supporters of Children Rising and Bunche Academy.

“CareerBridge taught us how to sell our product and what to say to the people we were selling to,” Student Devin Tobar explained. “Engaging with the customers was the most fun part for me.”

“I’m really grateful for this entrepreneurship opportunity… We all had pride in what we accomplished.” – Rosa Ramirez, CareerBridge Student
Ralph Bunche Culinary Arts Program students at work to fund summer internship in Oakland

Your support of CareerBridge provided students the opportunity to learn and fundraise for their summer internship in Oakland.

After an energetic campaign to collect orders, produce and package the product, and make deliveries, the students sold over 200 pounds of Bunches of Sweetness. That’s a lot of chocolate! “We were responsible for promoting our product and getting it out there, so that what we made would be profitable,” said student Timothy Suisala. “We sold more than I thought we would.”

Funds from the sales went directly towards Bunche Academy’s career-readiness programs, including a significant portion that went towards $300 stipends for summer internships in Oakland for students who participated in Bunches of Sweetness.

Student Rosa Ramirez told us, “I’m really grateful for this entrepreneurship opportunity, which taught us a lot about how to market a business. We all had pride in what we accomplished.”

We are grateful for all of our supporters who placed orders for Bunches of Sweetness and helped make this student-centered campaign a success. We hope you enjoyed the delicious treat even more by knowing that you contributed to the growth and development of West Oakland student entrepreneurs.

Be on the lookout for more seasonally inspired Bunches of Sweetness products!

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

 I can help a student with a Summer Internship this year. Let’s Talk!

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs.

Helping a Vulnerable Child Embrace an Exceptional Gift

By Eric Steckel
March 5, 2019

by Linda Joseph, Volunteer Succeeding by Reading tutor

This spring, we are excited to share the words of Linda Joseph, a volunteer reading tutor working with our Succeeding by Reading program.
Jadon and volunteer reading tutor Linda Joseph during Succeeding by Reading session.

You helped Jadon learn to read in English, his second language. His first language growing up was American Sign Language.

This year I am proud to work with a student named Jadon who has blossomed in his reading. But it took time, trust and a boost of confidence that came from an exceptional skill he possesses. When we began working together, Jadon was withdrawn and very unsure of himself. We discussed that the Succeeding by Reading clinic was a special learning time that focused just on him, and the more we worked together, the more success he would experience. I also promised fun.

Jadon was having trouble reading in class and keeping up with the other students. As his teacher Ms. Soto pointed out, students know when they’re not at the same level as others. He felt “dumb.” He knew the alphabet sounds and worked very hard to sound words out. However, there are words where the rules do not apply, or where certain letters are silent, and they gave him difficulty.

At a loss, I reviewed notes from our first-session interview, and realized that for Jadon, English is his second language, and his first language is ASL, American Sign Language! Jadon lives with his mother, father and aunt, who are all deaf. Jadon grew up learning how to communicate by using his hands. For Jadon, learning to speak English came later. However, none of his friends knew that he Signs. He kept it to himself, as if it were a shameful secret.

As I worked hard to find things that would help Jadon’s development in phonics, Clinic Coordinator Bekah Wilson suggested that I also invite Jadon to teach me to Sign. This really engaged him. I talked to him about how special he is and that knowing an entirely different language indicates his high intelligence. (I include confidence-building comments as often as I can. His favorite is when I refer to him as “exceptional.”)

“As we read the book together, you could see the pride in him grow.”

Jadon signing in American Sign Language

Because of your donations, we’re able to buy books like the Signing Book that made Jadon so happy.

One day, Bekah brought a special book to the clinic: a Signing Book for children. When we gave it to Jadon he lit up like a Christmas tree. As we read the book together, you could see the pride in him grow.

As we wrapped up our session that day, Jadon appeared happy and engaged. “Finally!” I thought to myself. During our Signing time, he asked if he could keep the book. Bekah said “Yes.”

Then Jadon asked if he could show the book to his friends and teach them about Signing. A chorus of bells went off in my head and I thought my heart would burst! I managed to calmly respond, “That’s a wonderful idea!” He took the signing book and immediately shared it with another student.

For the first time since we began working together, Jadon left the session smiling. And Ms. Soto reports that he is more confident, raising his hand in class and participating more. Thank you Children Rising for the difference you make in the lives of students.

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


 I want to be a volunteer 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