Community Reading Buddies

What is Community Reading Buddies?

Community Reading Buddies 2014 is currently in session!

If you want to check which days you’re scheduled for, see the schedule link in the e-mail all mentors received. If you have not received this e-mail, please contact

The registration deadline has passed, but we will accept new mentors on a case-by-case basis if you can volunteer on our most needed days (see below). And don’t forget to turn in your permission slip!


This summer, Community Reading Buddies will be held from June 16th to August 8th at four sites:

IMPORTANT NOTE: The MONDAY site location and program time have changed.

Room to Bloom (at Castlemont High School)
Mondays, 9:15-11:15 AM
8601 MacArthur Blvd, Building 300, Classroom 301
Highland CDC (off International Blvd)
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00-11:00 AM
1322 86th Avenue, Oakland, CA 94621
King CDC (near Ashby BART)
Wednesdays, 2:30-4:30 PM
1939 Ward Street, Berkeley, CA 94703
Emerson CDC (near Oakland Tech)
Fridays, 2:15-4:15 PM
4801 Lawton Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609

IMPORTANT NOTE: We are in particular need of mentors on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the last 4 weeks of the program. If you can volunteer these days you will be given priority and are much more likely to be selected to participate in the program and work on your chosen days.

Sign up now!


Did you miss our great Community Reading Buddies fundraiser on May 2?

It’s not too late to donate! Click here to support our literacy efforts for East Bay children in Summer 2014.


Last summer’s Reading Buddies was a great success!

The program was held at three sites: Emerson CDC near Oakland Tech, Highland CDC in East Oakland, and King CDC in South Berkeley. More than 100 volunteer mentors were recruited from over 40 schools in the Bay Area (and beyond), and over the course of eight weeks, the youth mentors focused on literacy with over 100 preschool students. During closing ceremonies held at each site, young buddies were given certificates of achievement for completing the program.

Family engagement is key to helping children learn to read. To address this, Community Reading Buddies teamed with Raising A Reader to present our first parent workshop at Highland CDC. The workshop, “Early Brain Development and Interactive Book-Sharing,” was presented by Raising A Reader’s Sara Rizik-Baer in English and Spanish. We will continue to engage families in CRB and plan to hold additional workshops next summer.

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.



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.

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