The CRB story includes more than 25 years of refinement and innovation…

Youth across the Bay are stepping up to ensure that no Bay Area K-3rd grader will be held back in life for lack of literacy mentorship. At the same time, those youth are trained in social-emotional skills that prepare them to become successful, independent adults. The result is that K-3rd graders on average are doubling their literacy progress while in Community Reading Buddies, and 96% of the CRB youth are demonstrating growth as leaders and communicators.

Passionate about education and seeing the effect teenagers could have on young learners’ interest in reading, local learning specialist Nancy McKee-Jolda founds Community Reading Buddies (CRB) as a 20-student program at Oakland Public Library. Within a few years, the program grows to 60 students and moves to Centro Infanfil de la Raza, working mostly with English Language Learners.

Tutoring nonprofit Aspire Education is founded by Matthew Hulse and adopts the 100-student program, bringing CRB to the Childhood Development Centers of the Oakland Unified School District.

COVID-19 hits, and CRB quickly establishes a partnership with BookNook, an award-winning digital literacy platform, allowing the program to continue  and go year-round for the first time in CRB’s history. The virtual model creates the opportunity to reach far more students than ever before – over 600 in the 20-21 school year – and a waitlist grows, with over 900 Oakland parents expressing interest.

After looking at 211 organizations, the women’s giving community of Impact 100 – East Bay chooses one to give its 2021 six-figure grant to: Community Reading Buddies. Community Reading Buddies was featured in the local news, as our Director Artavia Berry shared how our donations can meet the demand for more youth mentor-buddy pairs. Over the next two years, the program is planning to triple in size.

“I loved watching my students progressing as their confidence in their reading abilities grew throughout the program. ”

– Caili, a youth mentor at CRB

The future of Community Reading Buddies

For what it costs other literacy programs to reach one student, Community Reading Buddies can reach 5-7. And the best part? The youth mentors are lining up.

With a proven virtual model and thousands of youth ready to step up, the early literacy problem is solvable.

Together we can close the early literacy gap in the Bay Area