Member Spotlight: Creating a Brighter Future
Reading Partners is a national organization with roots in Oakland and the Bay Area since 2007. They partner with 30 schools and over 1,450 volunteers from across the Bay Area to help students move toward and achieve reading proficiency through data-informed, curriculum-driven, one-on-one tutoring. Reading Partners mobilizes communities through providing students the support they need to read at grade level by fourth grade.
We asked Reading Partners a few questions about how they keep their organization running and some of their favorite stories from staff and volunteers. To learn more about their individual and one-on-one mode and the work that “warms your heart” keep reading.
What makes your organization stand out?
At Reading Partners we believe that literacy is the foundation for a bright future. Our community driven approach to the literacy crisis in the Bay Area engages the community and schools in empowering students to develop the foundational reading skills necessary for academic, professional, and life success. We know that each child learns a little bit differently and struggles with different skills, which is why Reading Partners’ individualized reading plans help students progress toward reading proficiency while keeping lessons engaging and tailored to their needs. For as little as an hour a week, tutors help make a lasting impact as their students gain confidence in their abilities.
What is your hidden talent? What keeps everything moving smoothly?
Our AmeriCorps site coordinators and volunteer coordinators are not exactly hidden, since they manage the daily operations of our reading centers and volunteer recruitment, but our 40 member team brings an incredible resource of passion and talent to our work every day. We are thankful for their service to Bay Area students and many will become teachers and education champions after their year of service.
What’s a highlight from a kid or parent that affected you?
Hannah is a site coordinator at our reading center at EnCompass Academy in East Oakland. At the beginning of the year, one of her students had incredibly low self-esteem, felt badly about his progress, and did not have the opportunity to practice reading much at home. Every week she patiently worked with her student and never quit motivating him to work harder, even when the last thing he wanted to do was sit through a tutoring session. Then after few months of working together, her student’s teacher approached her and told Hannah that he looks forward to Reading Partners every week, and tells her, “Miss Hannah makes me feel so good about myself!” Hannah’s story is one example of the hundreds of student transformations in our reading centers this year. She relates, “It just goes to show the amount of impact you can have on a student by something as simple as being there to listen, or reassuring them that they are capable of anything.”
Tell us about an “Aha” moment.
There are hundreds of “aha” moments happening in our reading centers every day. Whether a student makes a connection between two skills or moves up a curriculum level, the look of excitement and pride on a student’s face will warm your heart each and every time. By working one-on-one with their students for the whole school year, tutors are able to become a reading role model and help their students make the connection to why reading is important to them personally. Second grader Jackie told her tutor that reading matters to her because “I want to be like a scientist or a music teacher when I grow up and I really want to be really smart!” For another student, after attending the Read to Achieve Reading Rally at his school and hearing Golden State Warriors guard Patrick McCaw read on stage, he exclaimed “I thought basketball players hated reading, but I guess they actually love it… they were up there reading with us, and it was really cool.”
Why did you join the OLC Member Network?
Reading Partners is always excited to work with other community partners who are helping to boost literacy achievement in Oakland. The Oakland Literacy Coalition is a fantastic resource for Reading Partners. They bring together a diverse group of organizations, people, and stakeholders on a regular basis and provide us with time to connect and collaborate, as well as provide timely and relevant information from the field that helps us move our work forward. With the support of key partners like OLC, we can provide necessary literacy support to hundreds of Oakland elementary school students.