Community Reading Buddies (CRB) 2015 is here!

Whether you are a multi-year veteran or brand new to reading with preschoolers, we would love to have you in the program.

CRB’s summer program will run for eight weeks in 2015, from June 15th to August 7th.  (See below for locations and times.)

Learn more and sign up by clicking here: 




We will be working at three preschool sites this summer:

Highland CDC – 1322 86th Avenue, Oakland CA, 94621
United Nations CDC – 1025 4th Ave, Oakland CA, 94606
Emerson CDC – 4801 Lawton Ave, Oakland CA, 94609

Some preschools have multiple classrooms. There are 6 classrooms in all, and each one has a two sessions per week (designated as “day 1″ and “day 2″) .

CRB 2015 Map & Schedule


About 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.

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.

It has been positively excellent because he looks forward to seeing his Reading Buddies every week, and he knows what Friday means – he never wants to miss a Friday at school. He already had a love for books… but this has helped to improve and totally enhance. He’s more into reading on his own, whereas before he always wanted you to read to him. Now he takes initiative with books.”

-Preschool Parent​, Emerson Child Development center

(1)Data Source: California Department of Education, Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Results, (Accessed March 2013).


Reading Buddies keeps the momentum going with Family Reading Nights!

Aspire’s Reading Buddies program has expanded its mission of early literacy enrichment from summer into the school year!

We’ve run a series of Family Reading Nights at some of our summer sites in Oakland -engaging everyone in the fun and importance of early reading.

Family participation is key to building pre-literacy skills, closing the vocabulary “word gap” and ensuring kindergarten readiness. With that in mind, Reading Buddies has hosted three evenings of fun pre-literacy activities, entertainment, and family fun. We’ve had 25-50 community members at each event – a great success!

It has only been possible, of course, with the help of supportive staff from our partner CDCs, and the invaluable skill of our friends at Raising a Reader.

At each event, our teenage Youth Mentors got a chance to re-unite with their preschool “Buddies,” playing alphabet games to practice letter recognition and filling in books with blank pages to reinforce concepts of print and narrative skills. Our friends at Raising a Reader presented a lively read aloud, followed by a conversation with parents about ways to enhance the reading experience at home. Families also signed up to receive regular tips on how to make the most of their own family reading time.

To ensure the events work as sparks of family reading, every child left with a book to take home and start reading with someone that very night.

We at Aspire have always known the benefits of one-on-one literacy mentoring, and we’re delighted to enhance and extend that work through closer collaboration with families. Thank you to everyone who helped make our first Family Reading Nights a soaring success!



Community Reading Buddies runs on community support.


Support from the community is vital to the success and expansion of CRB. Your donation will help ensure that we can continue improving literacy and opportunity for young children in the East Bay.