July 2020

General Meeting

Agenda Highlights

This quarter we examined virtual learning in Oakland. This past Spring, as COVID-19 began appearing in communities across the Bay Area and the rest of the country, schools and programs were forced to close their doors and pivot online. Within a few weeks, students and educators were suddenly learning and teaching over Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype. We were thrilled to feature the work of two organizations who shared what they learned and created through distance learning this summer. 

The Oakland REACH is responding to the growing learning disparities affecting Black and Brown children in Oakland and the growing digital divide exacerbated by COVID-19. In June the Oakland REACH launched the City-Wide Virtual Family Hub and Literacy Liberation Center, providing summer learning and tech resources for over 200 students and families.

Springboard Collaborative has partnered with schools in Oakland since 2015, providing after school and summer programming aimed at coaching teachers and families to help kids read on grade level. As a response to COVID-19, Springboard moved their programming online and launched a resource portal for families and teachers. They also released a family literacy app and toolkit, and organized professional learning communities for teachers.

We used our time together to learn and discuss:

  • What has worked for programs transitioning to virtual learning? What hasn’t?
  • How are programs supporting the work of schools and teachers in virtual learning?
  • How are programs supporting students and families through virtual learning?
  • How can we leverage virtual learning to begin closing opportunity gaps and keep all kids connected – online and in person?
  • What lessons and learning can we all take into the Fall?

Participants were able to reflect, share, and learn together in “round-table” discussions with Community Education Partnerships, Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, and East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation.

As we enter the Fall, we continue to support each other and our students in navigating the online learning world. We look forward to more collaboration and innovation throughout Oakland.

See below for links to the presentation guide, the recorded webinar, and the powerpoint slides. 


April 2020

General Meeting

Agenda Highlights

Our Spring Quarterly Meeting focused on Understanding Dyslexia. After spending the previous few months learning more about the science of reading and best practices in teaching reading, dyslexia began to stand out as a really important focus area for our community.

Kristen Koeller is the Educator Outreach Co-Manager for Decoding Dyslexia CA, and is a Structured Literacy TSA in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.  She is an IDA Certified Structured Literacy Classroom Teacher.

Deberah Schlagel is a Decoding Dyslexia, CA volunteer and parent advocate.

Together they led the webinar and helped our community better understand Dyslexia while exploring the following questions:

  • What is Dyslexia and how does it affect student learners?
  • Why do so many students fall through the cracks before identification and support?
  • What practices and instructional approaches can support students with dyslexia?
  • What can we learn from parent experience in navigating school systems to support a dyslexic child?
  • What role might we each play in supporting students and how can this knowledge inform our own practice?

See below for links to the presentation guide, the recorded webinar, and the powerpoint slides.


January 2020

General Meeting


Agenda Highlights

Our Winter Quarterly Meeting focused on literacy work and literacy goals in Oakland.  After a whirlwind year of reading and discussing national coverage about reading instruction, and hearing directly from Oakland educators in the Fall at our previous Quarterly Meeting, we have come to understand some important things that continue to drive our work here at the OLC:

  • The science of reading and how students learn to read has been settled: instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension are all crucial in developing strong readers.
  • We, as a country, and here in Oakland, do not do enough to help students develop phonemic awareness and build phonics skills in early reading instruction. We do not have strong systematic literacy instruction rooted in phonics skills development and it’s holding our students back. Some students still learn to read without systematic instruction, but most will not.
  • We cannot point fingers or play the blame game. We are all in this together, we all want better for our students, and so we are committed to focusing on solutions from here on out, and we understand that it takes all of us.
  • Across the country, schools, school districts, cities, and states are grappling with how best to teach students to read and we are throwing our hat into the ring as well. But what makes Oakland unique is how we are centering this work around the voices and experiences of families and students, teachers, and schools.
  • Therefore, we are committed to alignment across families, schools, and programs serving students.

We all know that two heads are better than one when solving big challenges, and at the OLC we live this daily: “collaborate” is one of our core values. On Wednesday, Jan 15 at our Winter Quarterly Meeting, over 45 individuals representing over 30 organizations throughout Oakland came together to learn, collaborate, and champion critical pathways to transform literacy outcomes in Oakland.


Centering Equity in Our Work: Small Group DialogueMichael De Sousa, the Oakland REACH

In order for our group to begin thinking about literacy outcomes and goals, we needed to make sure that we are hearing from all relevant stakeholders, especially families. Michael led the group through thinking about the different perspectives and solutions centered in our work. He challenged us to change how we lead in order to center more family and student experiences, and to evaluate how the actual structures and processes we use in our work often need to change in order to incorporate the range of experiences and priorities families have for their students. We had opportunities to share ideas and talk through these topics with each other, and share out in a larger group.


Call to Action: Literacy for AllKareem Weaver, NAACP

Following Michael’s workshop, Kareem helped the group think through the need for structural and systemic change within the literacy profession, specifically here in Oakland. He pointed out that most teachers who teach reading or are involved in the literacy profession learned to read easily themselves, and so it’s often hard for us to understand the difficulties a student has and the complexities in the process when learning to read. There’s a huge experience gap – most educators didn’t “need” the structured phonics in order to learn to read, but in fact, over 60% of students require explicit, phonics-based instruction to learn to read. 

Kareem also pointed out that currently most schools in Oakland don’t have the “stuff” (curriculum, resources, teacher professional development) and therefore teachers rarely know the “stuff” (how to teach phonics, how to incorporate structured literacy into the ELA curriculum) and fixing that should be a priority for sure. However, at the same time, he stressed the importance of everyone developing different mindsets – that we need vulnerability to examine our work, keep it focused in the research, and make sure it’s what kids need.


OUSD Literacy Alignment, Wes Jacques, OUSD

As Kareem pointed out, having a perfect curriculum won’t fix everything, but a strong instructional system will go a long way. Wes presented an overview of OUSD’s instructional focus for 2020 and multi-year literacy goals for students. He closed his presentation with an activity for the group, soliciting feedback for the working group moving forward.  Participants answered the following questions: “What resonates?”, “What are you wondering?”, and “What ideas do you have to increase collective impact?” 

The working group will continue to collect feedback at each meeting or event. This feedback will help shape their priorities and projects. You can expect updates from the working 

Thanks to all who joined us. We look forward to continuing this important conversation and work.

Below you will find some resources shared throughout the meeting:

General Resources & Links



Thank you to Noah’s Bagels Lakeshore for the bagel donation, and Whole Foods Oakland for our coffee! 

Thank you to Greenlining 360 Center for the use of their fantastic space!

October 2019

General Meeting


Agenda Highlights

Our Fall Quarterly meeting centered around literacy development and instruction from birth to early elementary. The question of “what is the best way to teach reading?” has been discussed for ages among schools, educators, and researchers. 20 years ago the National Reading Panel convened and found that effective reading programs combined instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. In most classrooms and reading programs, there’s no debate about the importance of these components. But for many classrooms today, explicit and systematic phonics instruction has often been absent – or, at most, a haphazard add-on to an existing literacy program.

The discussion about the place and importance of phonics in the literacy classroom has recently been the focus of countless debates, articles, podcasts, and even Twitter discussions over the past year. We believe this is due to a few factors:


Panel Discussion with Oakland Educators

featuring Margaret Goldberg, OUSD; Lani Mednick, OUSD; Erin Cox, Aspire Public Schools; Dana Cilono, SEEDS of Learning

In order to better understand how this conversation is playing out here in Oakland, our Fall Quarterly meeting featured a panel of four Oakland educators who shared their experiences with understanding cognitive science reading research and implementing a structured phonics program in their instruction. Some of our main takeaways from their experiences included:

  • While it is important to have a strong curriculum, curriculum is not the magic answer. Teachers and educators need to understand the science of reading first in order to implement explicit phonics instruction.
  • It takes time and support for teachers and educators to understand and process the research, and it takes time and support for them to change their practices.
  • In the same vein, it takes intentionality and time to build a community of educators. Schools and school districts have to be willing to create and sustain systems where teachers stay and feel supported in this work.


Early Literacy Workshop

with Sara Rizik-Baer, Tandem, Partners in Early Learning

We also recognize that literacy development starts well before a student arrives at school in TK or Kindergarten. We had an interactive workshop by Sara Rizik-Baer from Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, focused on building literacy rich environments for students from birth through age 5. Sara highlighted strategies educators can use to develop the American Library Association’s Six Skills of Early Literacy.

In the months to come, we will be diving into this topic in depth. We’ll be exploring the cognitive science behind reading instruction more closely in our upcoming Member Meeting in November. We’ll also take a closer look at literacy instruction, research, and outcomes for students across Oakland. We’d love to hear your questions – what are you curious about? What does this mean for your work or your experience in literacy in Oakland? Drop us a line at team@oaklandliteracycoalition.org and let us know.

You can find the Fall 2019 Quarterly Meeting Notebook here.  You can find a copy of the Meeting Powerpoint here.

Below you will find some resources shared throughout the meeting.


General Resources & Links


Thank you to Janet Heller and the team at Chapter 510 & the Department of Make-Believe for the use of their wonderful space!

Thank you to Noah’s NY Bagels Lakeshore and Whole Foods for their donations of delicious bagels and coffee!

July 2019

General Meeting


Agenda Highlights

For our Summer Quarterly meeting we focused primarily on learning more about reforming the Proposition 13 corporate loophole. We heard an engaging presentation from Ben Grieff with Evolve CA, and then broke out into small groups to discuss Prop 13 reform and ways that we can continue to support our schools and communities even before the 2020 vote.

At the end of the meeting we heard from OLC co-director Sanam Jorjani about a potential new project – the Oakland Literacy Center! Stay tuned for updates about this exciting new possibility for Oakland.

You can find the Summer 2019 Quarterly Meeting Notebook here.

Below you will find the resources shared throughout the meeting.

General Resources & Links


Thank you to the Greenlining 360 Center for the use of the Resistance Room!

Thank you to Noah’s NY Bagels Lakeshore and Hasta Muerte Coffee for their donations of delicious bagels and coffee!

April 2019

General Meeting


Agenda Highlights

Our Spring Quarterly Meeting was energizing, engaging, and exciting. We were joined by Roilyn Graves from Envision Public Schools, who led a workshop for participants to help us understand Special Education and literacy, and how they intersect with our own work.

You can find the powerpoint presentation here, and the participant note packet here.

Below you will find the resources shared throughout the workshop in the various stations:

General Resources


Deep Dive Into Common Disabilities 


Literacy Focused Interventions



Thank you to Chapter 510 and Janet Heller for hosting us in their one-of-a-kind writing space.  For more information about their programs or renting their space for an event, check out their website.

Thank you to Noah’s Bagels and Whole Foods for their donation of delicious coffee and bagels!


Documents from Spring Quarterly Meeting

January 2019

General Meeting


Agenda Highlights

On Wednesday, January 16, over 30 participants representing a wide variety of organizations throughout Oakland convened at Chapter 510 & the Department of Make-Believe for an exciting morning of learning and networking.

This meeting focused around After School programs and literacy education. You can access the complete meeting packet here and the complete slideshow here.


After School and Literacy Education

We started off learning about the priorities, successes, and challenges of after school programs in Oakland with presentations from Martha Peña of OUSD, Claire Elowitt of Super Stars Literacy, Ty-Licia Hooker of Boost! West Oakland, and Becky Sotello of Girls Inc. of Alameda County.  Each spoke from their perspective about their organization’s experience navigating the after school landscape in order to serve students most effectively.  

After the presentations there was an opportunity for participants to connect with the presenters and each other in small groups for a deep-dive discussion, which was a really exciting part of the meeting. “Loved the format – short presentations and then breakout sessions,” said one participant.


Advocacy Opportunity

Aleah Rosario of CALSAC, presented information about after school funding on the state level – where most of Oakland’s after school funding comes from.  Aleah shared that lawmakers are currently reviewing the budget over these next few months, which makes this an ideal time to make your voice heard and convince the state to allocate more funding towards after school programs. Aleah shared opportunities for statewide advocacy leading up to the CA Afterschool and Summer Challenge event in March. Check out some of the resources Aleah shared and reach out to us if you want more information on anything here:

On Monday, January 28, from 1-1:30pm the OLC will be hosting an Advocacy Call for anyone interested in getting involved.  Please RSVP to this link if you would like to join us!


Read Aloud Workshop

Immediately following the general meeting, the OLC’s Program Manager, Rebecca Schmidt, lead a workshop on Read Aloud Basics. This workshop was aimed toward Family Reading Celebration Mini Grant recipients, but open to anyone interested.  You can access the workshop handout here: Read Aloud Workshop one-pager. Be sure to check out our Reading Celebration Planning & Resource Page on our website for additional resources and updates.



Thank you to Chapter 510 and Janet Heller for hosting us in their one-of-a-kind writing space.  For more information about their programs or renting their space for an event, check out their website.

Thank you to Beauty’s Bagel Shop and Whole Foods for their donation of delicious coffee and bagels!

Documents from Winter OLC Quarterly Meeting

October 2018

General Meeting

Agenda Highlights

On Wednesday, October 17, over 35 community partners in 30 organizations met at the East Bay Community Foundation conference center for the Fall Quarterly OLC Meeting. You can access the complete meeting packet below.

Here are some highlights!

Partners & Community Schools

Ali Metzler from OUSD presented about Community Schools in Oakland, and in particular, about the Community School Manager role.  She shared that the CSM role can be an integral connection for literacy partners in OUSD schools. She offered some helpful guidelines for connecting with a school’s CSM, and also some tips on what to do and who to go to if your school doesn’t have a CSM.

Ali then turned the focus to integrating literacy partners into schools.  She presented some feedback about best practices from school leaders and select partners.  The group then had a chance to reflect on their own areas for growth and things that are going well in their own partnerships in schools, and explore some of the resources that OUSD offers to help partners and schools improve their partnerships.

Martin Young from OUSD closed out the presentation with a quick review of the Partnerships Process and a list of this year’s approved community partners.


You can find more information in the links below:


Family Reading Celebrations Mini Grants Info Session

Immediately after the main part of the OLC Meeting ended, Sanam Jorjani, one of the OLC Co-Directors, led an information session about the current round of mini grants.

You can find more information about Family Reading Celebrations in the links below:


Thank you to Whole Foods and Proposition Chicken for your generous donation. 

Documents from Fall OLC Quarterly Meeting

July 2018

General Meeting


Agenda Highlights 


On Wednesday, July 25, 2018, over 40 community partners representing over 30 organizations met at Chapter 510 and the Department of Make Believe for the Summer Quarterly OLC Meeting.


Below are some highlights!


Panel – Summer Learning: Three organizations show how they keep students engaged.


Julie McCalmont of OUSD, Marián Gutiérrez of the Aspire Education Summer Reading Buddies Program, and Bernadette Butler and Benjie Achtenberg from Aim High each presented about how their work keeps students engaged throughout the summer.  It was evident that although all three are very different organizations and work in different ways, student engagement and student experience are at the forefront.   


Julie shared that OUSD’s summer focus is generally summed up with the phrase “first experiences and second chances,” working with students new to OUSD programs (such as rising Kindergarteners, newcomers, or refugee students) and students who need extra support outside the typical school year (students who finish the school year behind or need a second chance on a class).  Marián spoke about the high school Reading Buddies Program and how powerful connections are made between the high schoolers and the students (who are typically PreK-3rd graders in their program).  She also discussed the importance and the challenge of engaging high schoolers from the same communities as the children in the program.  Bernadette and Benjie spoke about how important it is for Aim High to engage students in their program from day one, and how that can be challenging given such a short amount of time over the summer. But with an academic program that is specifically tailored to middle schoolers, and extracurriculars unlike a traditional school schedule (think Zumba, Ultimate Frisbee, or filmmaking), students jump right in.


All four panelists spoke about the importance of providing students an opportunity to experience something new and different over the summer, giving students the chance to build on what they’ve already learned in school, and/or helping students become prepared for the following school year.


“I loved the speakers and the different perspectives they took while at the same time they shared a sense of excitement, passion, and motivation”


You can find more information about the organizations here:



Summer Mini Grants Table Conversations


Each summer, the OLC gives out Mini Grants to organizations that work to promote and support student reading and family engagement over the summer.  These grants range in amount up to $1,000 and are meant to help organizations bring literacy and books into traditionally non-academic or out-of-school spaces.
Three Summer Reading Mini Grants recipients joined us at the OLC meeting: Wanda O’Neil from Maya Angelou Library and Literacy Center, Kacie Stratton from Harbor House Ministries, and Lucy Rios from Brighter Beginnings.  They each held “table conversations” and shared with participants about their organizations and their experiences in the Mini Grants program. The groups also had the chance to share with each other about various student engagement and community outreach strategies, as well as other best practices.


You can find out more information about the Summer Mini Grants here.  


You can find out more about the organizations that facilitated here:


Thank you to Whole Foods and Proposition Chicken for your generous donation. 

Documents from July OLC Quarterly Meeting

Load More
Back to Top