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Sky’s the Limit for These Ambitious Youth

By Eric Steckel
October 20, 2021

Internship with Bessie Coleman Aviation Allstars Opens a World of Aviation Careers

“The air is the only place free from prejudice.” Bessie Coleman was a trailblazer, leading the way for Blacks and women in aviation.

Margena Wade-Green, CareerBridge Program Director, has a keen eye and unbridled enthusiasm for untapped opportunities. It materialized this past summer as a unique aviation internship in which nine of our CareerBridge Academy students participated.

For the past five years, CareerBridge has partnered with Oakland International Airport in the Oakland Aviation Day (OAD), sponsored by the FAA. The field day at the airport is designed to open the world of aviation careers to students. While preparing for this year’s event, Margena met Gigi Coleman Brooms, the great-grandniece of aviation pioneer Bessie Coleman, and the CEO and founder of the Bessie Coleman Aviation Allstars. Ms. Coleman was in Oakland performing her re-enactment of Bessie Coleman and raising awareness of the foundation’s aviation scholarship program. Before long, the two enthusiastic women agreed to partner on a summer aviation internship.

“I decided blacks should not have to experience the difficulties I had faced, so I decided to open a flying school and teach other black women to fly.” — Bessie Coleman, aviation pioneer

They developed a hands-on program that allowed students to explore the many career opportunities within the aviation field while also preparing them to receive an FAA license to fly drone aircraft. Destiny Lucious, a junior in high school who is currently homeschooled, participated in the internship. Although she has ambitions to become an attorney, Destiny was eager to enroll in the aviation internship program.

Your support of CareerBridge has allowed Destiny to explore legal careers in aviation, and receive an FAA license to fly a drone aircraft.

“It was interesting to see all of the opportunities in aviation,” Destiny said. “Since I already plan to go to law school, law was one of the areas that was of interest to me. I was actually surprised by how many legal jobs there were in aviation.” Destiny is especially interested in the attorneys who investigate accidents and thinks she may want to explore that as an option.

This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Bessie Coleman becoming the first Black woman in America to receive a pilot license. Having overcome race and gender discrimination in the early years of aviation, Bessie Coleman has been an inspiration to aspiring pilots. “I refused to take no for an answer,” she boldly declared a century ago.

Ms. Coleman and Ms. Wade-Green are all about opportunities and would love to see ambitious young ladies like Destiny pursue a career in aviation. “Great-aunt Bessie had wanted to start an aviation school, and this was a way to continue that dream,” Ms. Coleman said. “I love working with students to pursue scholarships and careers in aviation, or to receive their drone license so they can start a business in the industry, or anything they want to pursue in life.”

Your $1,000 gift to CareerBridge provides students like Destiny paid, hands-on experience in fields they never knew existed.

YES, I CAN empower a child to build bridges to a better future!

 I want to learn more about online reading or math clinics to see if tutoring is right for me!

I want to help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs to empower more children this year!

Burbank Elementary: Planting the Seeds of Children Rising

By Children Rising
October 18, 2021

Former principal remembers the early days of Faith Network

Special Contribution by Roberta Teller, former principal at Burbank Elementary School

2021 marks the 20th anniversary of Children Rising! As we celebrate this very special milestone, we caught up with Roberta Teller, former principal at Luther Burbank Elementary School, and the very first school to partner with Faith Network of the East Bay. Ms. Teller recalls that first meeting with Randy Roth, and the seeds that grew into Children Rising.

Your support of Children Rising over the past 20 years has seen many school libraries – like the one at Burbank Elementary School – open their doors to the wonder of reading.

My first meeting with Randy Roth was two days after September 11, 2001, and it took place under incredible circumstances. I was so impressed by him, that this man was giving up his ministry to serve the children of Oakland. I was wowed and touched by his commitment.

We talked about what I felt the needs were for our school community. For me, it wasn’t only about the children, who, of course, are central to everything. It was also about how we serve the whole community, especially the teachers. I taught in Oakland for many years before I became a principal. I understood the stressors that the teachers were under every day.

READ: A History of Children Rising

The staff was demoralized. They didn’t feel like they were listened to. They really felt like they were out there alone. There was a lot of distrust. “Why should I trust you? Why should I trust Faith Network?” That was the atmosphere.

“Faith Network listened to us and then they acted upon what they heard…They listened and they came through. They showed up for the kids.” — Roberta Teller, former principal at Burbank Elementary School

Roberta Teller - former principal at Burbank Elementary School

Roberta Teller, former principal at Burbank Elementary School, put her faith in Faith Network.

At first it was like, “You’re going to get us tutors? Yeah, right. You’re going to get people to help us on the playground? Yeah, right.” But then suddenly tutors started showing up. And then there were people on the playground helping, they were consistent, and they were reliable. And then we started having nice little luncheons.

Our teachers started asking, “When’s Randy coming?” and “You know what else they can do…” They started looking for the Faith Network people to tell them what they wanted.

At the time, our library had been closed for a couple of years. We didn’t have anyone in there and Randy helped us get someone to work in the library. That was one of the important projects: to get that library alive, so kids could have books and things to read and books to take home.

We had faith in Faith Network. Faith Network listened to us and then they acted upon what they heard. They didn’t listen and then do what they wanted to do. They listened and they came through. They showed up for the kids.

YES, I CAN empower a child to build bridges to a better future!

 I want to learn more about online reading or math clinics to see if tutoring is right for me!

I want to help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs to empower more children this year!

Mikayla Overcomes Learning Challenges in Math

By Eric Steckel
October 15, 2021

One-on-One Attention Helps Child Focus, Develop Self-confidence

Mikayla, one of the first children to enroll in Children Rising’s Path2Math online tutoring program, is like so many second-grade girls. She has a collection of stuffed animals — and unicorns — loves playing with her cousins and friends, and adores Elsa from the movie Frozen. Like so many children in Oakland, she also struggles with foundational math skills and lags behind grade level.

Tutoring two hours a week – either online or in-person – is all it takes to empower two struggling students to overcome learning challenges, and recover academically and emotionally from the pandemic.

“She has had challenges,” Mey Mey, Mikayla’s mother, explained. “She likes to learn and she likes hands-on learning. But she might be dyslexic. It’s made reading, writing, everything a little bit more difficult for her.”

Kathleen Baker, a Path2Math tutor, worked with Mikayla in the spring and summer. “Mikayla’s just a sweetheart. Definitely on the shyer side, but she really enjoys math,” she said. “It takes a little while to get them to feel comfortable and talk about themselves, so I always show them my dogs right away. It’s a great ice breaker, and it just warms them up immediately.”

Once they got to know one another, Mikayla and Kathleen jumped into math together. “The Path2Math IXL program is fantastic,” Kathleen explained. “The way it diagnoses where a child is and then gives you the recommendations is just fantastic. If the child misses a few problems in a row, it takes them back to where they had success, but it keeps moving them forward in their skill level. And that’s what we did with Mikayla, and she just kept achieving new skills.”

“When I saw her figuring things out in her head, I was like, ‘Whoa, that is just amazing!’. And I let her know how amazing I think she is.” — Kathleen Baker, Path2Math Tutor

Despite her challenges, Mikayla has made significant progress. She started off working on first-grade level exercises and achieved a certificate of completion. She then moved on to second-grade level and has mastered many of the skills to reach grade-level proficiency.

Each time she reached a certificate, we printed it out so she could put it on her wall. “Mikayla can point to that certificate and say, ‘That’s me. That’s what I achieved.’ It is about praising the accomplishment and building their self-esteem and confidence.” Kathleen said.

Your support of Children Rising helped Mikayla recover from COVID-19 learning loss and catch up to her classmates in math.

Tutors frequently have “aha” moments where all the hard work starts to connect and click. “One of the things that really blew my mind towards the end of our time was Mikayla started adding and subtracting in her head, not on paper, and not counting on her fingers. I could see her eyes moving when she was trying to figure something out, and then she would come up with the answer.”

MeyMey credits the one-on-one attention. “It helps her focus. When she’s in a group, she might think, ‘I don’t have to do this part.’ but one-on-one, she remains focused and engaged.”

As Mikayla moves into third grade this year, the work she has done in Path2Math will position her to catch up to grade level and succeed in school.

You can become a tutor today. You can give a struggling student the boost they need to reach their God-given potential!

YES, I CAN empower a child to build bridges to a better future!

 I want to learn more about online reading or math clinics to see if tutoring is right for me!

I want to help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs to empower more children this year!

* Names changed to protect the identity of the students

Safeway Foundation Provides $30,000 Grant to Promote Social Justice and Racial Equity

By Chelsea Boniak
October 5, 2021

Local corporation supports initiatives to eliminate inequities and address needs of racial and ethnic minority groups

Safeway foundation is funding programs that address social justice and racial equity initiatives in order to improve the well-being and security of communities of color.

Children Rising is pleased to be the recipient of a generous $30,000 grant from the Safeway Foundation that will provide much-needed assistance to children and youth in our community impacted by social and racial inequity.

The grant is made possible by the Albertsons Companies Racial and Social Justice Grant Program. It is designed to fund programs, activities, initiatives, or educational outreach that helps eliminate inequities and address the unique needs of racial and ethnic minority groups in the community.

“Racial justice and equality cannot be achieved by people returning to the status quo. We must intentionally open a door to lasting change across our country,” said Albertsons Companies President and CEO Vivek Sankaran. “We’ve seen unity in the seas of people throughout the country demanding justice for those whose lives were senselessly taken and calling for an end to hatred, intolerance, and systemic racism. We will be part of the solution by helping our communities lay the foundation for racial equality and social justice.”

Funding programs that address educational inequity

Children Rising student with reading workbook.

Safeway Foundation’s ongoing support of children and youth in the Oakland community is helping to build bridges to a better future.

The purpose of this funding is to encourage, empower and engage social justice and racial equity initiatives in order to improve the well-being and security of communities of color.

Our Succeeding by Reading and Path2Math tutoring programs align well with those goals. And our focus on neighborhood schools most impacted by poverty, violence, and educational inequity nurture children who typically face multiple obstacles to education.

Alongside a $15,000 grant from Safeway Foundation’s Nourishing Neighbors Summer Meals program, the $45,000 funding from both grants will support children, youth, and families in Children Rising programs. It also underscores the 10-year partnership between Children Rising and Safeway.

Thank you to the Safeway Foundation for your ongoing support of children and youth in the Oakland community. Your support is helping to build bridges to a better future.

YES, I CAN empower a child to build bridges to a better future!

 I want to learn more about online reading or math clinics to see if tutoring is right for me!

I want to help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs to empower more children this year!

Reading and Math Tutors Needed in Oakland Elementary Schools

By Jim Wambach
October 1, 2021

80% of Second-graders in Children Rising Schools are Two or More Grade Levels Behind

Tutors NeededIt has been a turbulent 18 months, so full of challenges and opportunities. The global pandemic had a galvanizing effect in many ways. We saw the Oakland Undivided Campaign virtually eliminate the digital divide in Oakland Unified School District. Children Rising and other community partners now offer programs online. This summer, for the first time ever, we provided summer tutoring sessions for reading and math – with volunteers from all over the Bay Area jumping online with the kids!

There is now a profound need — and opportunity — to do more for more of these kids and make truly meaningful progress in closing the devastating achievement gap that has widened in the midst of the pandemic. Fall testing results are in, and 75-80% of the second-graders in the schools we serve at OUSD are two or more grade levels behind in reading and/or math. Below are math scores from 22 second-graders from one classroom, representative of the schools we serve.

Tutors Needed! These are 22 amazing little people that are going to need all of the support they can get this year.

Our amazing educators are working extremely hard but they really have their hands full this year. These results are not a surprise. We’ve all been talking about pandemic-related learning loss, but stats don’t tell the whole story. Although it makes for very grim reading, it’s important to remember these are 22 amazing little people that are going to need all of the support they can get this year.

A shortage of tutors this year

This is not a normal request for volunteers. The need is greater than ever to serve the schools we are currently working with. Unfortunately, because of COVID, our numbers are down. Path2Math needs at least 40 more tutors. Succeeding by Reading needs another 40-50 tutors.

Each of you can help

Become a tutor. If you have ever considered stepping forward to nurture and empower a struggling child in school, now is the time!

It’s an extraordinary time, and your help in spreading the word and generating community interest to get involved can make a huge difference this year for many children. Here’s how you can help.

  • Become a tutor. If you have ever considered stepping forward to nurture and empower a struggling child in school, now is the time.
  • Spread the word. If you know of anyone who may be interested in tutoring an amazing young learner, please share this with them.
  • Learn more about Children Rising tutoring opportunities. If you are on the fence, this may be the tipping point for you!

The programs are ready – Path2Math makes it possible for every volunteer to tutor online. Succeeding by Reading is looking for tutors who can tutor the kids in the schools.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information. I am grateful for any assistance you can provide as we work to spread the word throughout the community.

For the Children,

Jim

YES, I CAN empower a child to build bridges to a better future!

 I want to learn more about online reading or math clinics to see if tutoring is right for me!

I want to help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs to empower more children this year!