Community Reading Buddies

Community Reading Buddies pairs teenage mentors with pre-K - 3rd grade learners, building literacy and community in tandem.

Each summer, over a hundred junior high and high school students volunteer to spend time reading one-on-one with preschoolers from Child Development Centers in the East Bay.

The volunteers lead reading activities and games, weaving in academic content from a variety of topics, including science, music, and art. The teenage volunteers act as mentors and “buddies” for their younger charges.

Community Reading Buddies Photo Gallery

Community Reading Buddies had its biggest and most successful year ever in 2015!

Learn more from our Program Report, written by an outside evaluator.

Community Reading Buddies 2015 Report

Are you a Summer 2015 Reading Buddy?

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About Community Reading Buddies

In Alameda County, nearly 70% of low-income youth are not proficient readers by the end of 3rd grade.(1) We at Aspire Education Project are committed to combatting this epidemic by building a love of reading in preschoolers through the Community Reading Buddies program.Community Reading Buddies was started in 1994 by Nancy McKee-Jolda, an AEP board member. In 2006 she handed operation of the program over to AEP, and CRB has been growing ever since. CRB exemplifies Aspire’s integrated approach to community learning.crb_highland_jul-30-14_07

Each summer, over a hundred junior high and high school students volunteer to spend time reading one-on-one with preschoolers from Child Development Centers in the East Bay.The volunteers lead reading activities and games, weaving in academic content from a variety of topics, including science, music, and art. The teenage volunteers act as mentors and “buddies” for their younger charges. At the same time, the volunteers learn from the children they are teaching: it is an opportunity for the junior high and high school mentors to interact with neighbors from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. The mentors are provided with training in pedagogy and exposed to the challenges and rewards of teaching. Some mentors may also choose to take on leadership roles, helping to structure activities and guide fellow mentors.

Community Reading Buddies is about transferring knowledge in multiple directions—the “students” improve their language skills, the “teachers” learn to teach, and everyone learns more about the greater East Bay community. The success of this program can be seen in its longevity, the high return rate of former participants, and the broad support it receives from parents and teachers. We plan to eventually expand the program to run year-round.

This year, CRB has been awarded as $10,000 grant from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation  for rainin foundationCommunity Reading Buddies.  The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is a  private family foundation that funds cutting edge ideas, because only through innovative  thinking can we achieve a world where performing arts organizations can thrive, every  child can read, and chronic diseases can be cured. More at krfoundation.org.

Rogers-Family-Foundation-225

In addition, The Rogers Family Foundation made the generous contribution of $8000 towards Community Reading Buddies. The mission of the Rogers Family Foundation is to support organizations committed to the highest level of achievement and excellence with a particular emphasis in the area of education in the city of Oakland and its immediate surrounding areas. More at http://www.rogersfoundation.org/

(1)Data Source: California Department of Education, Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Results, http://star.cde.ca.gov/ (Accessed March 2013).

Community Reading Buddies 2015 Information

The 2015 program has concluded. 

Thank you for your interest, please check back in April for the upcoming 2016 program. 


We worked in five classrooms at two preschool sites this summer:

Highland CDC – 1322 86th Avenue, Oakland CA, 94621

Emerson CDC – 4801 Lawton Ave, Oakland CA, 94609

Highland CDC had multiple classrooms. There were 5 classrooms in all, and each one had two sessions per week (designated as “day 1″ and “day 2″). 

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