We are excited to spotlight Girls Inc of Alameda County, which plays an important role in supporting literacy and enrichment in Oakland schools. Girls Inc programs serve youth both in schools in OUSD and at the Girls Inc. Simpson Center for Girls in after school programs. Their K-5 programs serve both girls and boys with a focus on Literacy and Enrichment curriculum.
Interview with Girls Inc Literacy Specialist Celene Alva Cowling
How does your organization support literacy in Oakland?
Our organization partners with 13 schools in Oakland were we lead or support the after school program. We provide one hour of literacy instruction per day as part of our program model.
OLC: What sets Girls Inc apart from other organizations with similar missions?
We have invested over 25 years in research and practice on strategies to implement literacy instruction in the expanded learning setting (after school ).
OLC: What’s on the horizon? What community programming or events are coming up that your organization is most excited about and why?
On the horizon this summer we have our Arts and Literacy curriculum rolling out where we blend the arts with the practice of literacy skills. This summer as part of our summer camp we will also hold an annual Family Read Night. This year it will have a carnival theme where participants will be able to engage in a variety of literacy based activities.
OLC: Is there anything that you wish more people knew about your organization or the issues you are trying to solve?
I wish more people knew about the work we do in the elementary level to support literacy growth. We are in partnership with our schools to support solutions to the Oakland Literacy crisis.
Could you share an anecdote/experience about working with a student, teacher, or parent that really stood out for you?
I recently had an interaction with a student that has some challenges with focus in the classroom. When I took them on a break from class we saw that the book fair would be in a few weeks. They were so excited and shared that they loved to read. This allowed me to explore more options for this student on how to engage them in the classroom space.
What does Literacy & Justice for All mean to you?
It means that all students in our community no matter the zip code have access to quality literacy instruction. And those communities that are historically behind on reading or lack resources are proportioned the adequate resources to support with catching up and being literate by them time they reach 4th grade.