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Together we can close the early literacy gap in Oakland.

For 26 years, Community Reading Buddies has been mobilizing Bay Area high schoolers to mentor younger students in literacy and ignite them with a passion for reading. In turn, the high schoolers are trained in social-emotional skills that prepare them to become successful, independent adults.

In 2020 our 181 Youth mentors empowered their Buddies to grow by an average of a third of a grade level in only seven weeks!

buddies 2013-19
mentors 2014-19
books given away since 2015
1:1 reading hours since 2015

Value for young readers…

One-on-one interactive book reading is the most effective tool for developing early literacy and language skills. CRB's curriculum is aligned with the Oakland Unified School District's Big Day for PreK curriculum and California state standards, focusing particularly on:

  • Print awareness
  • Phonological awareness
  • Number sense
  • Vocabulary
  • Phoneme blending

Through interactions with their Youth Mentors, Buddies also work on cognitive and social-emotional development such as attention maintenance, critical thinking, expressing emotions, and social understanding.

…and value for young adults

According to 400 Fortune 500 CEOs, 75% of long-term career success depends on soft skills while only 25% depends on technical knowledge. Through our Positive Youth Development Approach, our Youth Mentors are trained in and develop in:

  • Leadership
  • Confidence
  • Communication Skills

96% in 2020 reported they feel more empowered as a leader and contributor.

Become a Mentor!

Who can be a mentor?

Rising 7th-12th grade students

What is the Commitment?

The minimum commitment is 4 hours per week (2 hours per day) for 4 weeks in the summer of 2021, however, you can volunteer up to 20 hours per week. The entire program is 8 weeks long, and we encourage our Youth Mentors to commit to the full eight weeks in order to build a strong relationship with their buddies.

Benefits of being a Youth Mentor

  • Build leadership skills
  • Build relationships with young children
  • Learn early literacy and teaching skills
  • Find inspiration for future careers
  • Earn community service hours
  • Build your résumé and include on your college applications
  • Get to know the East Bay community

How do I apply?

  • Click on the button below to be put on our mailing list for more information.
  • When available, fill out an online application and submit a parent permission form.

"Reading Buddies taught me patience and diplomacy. My buddies were super enthusiastic; however, they liked to try and be the leader and create a lesson plan for the day. I learned to find a middle ground between what they wanted to do and what the lead mentors and I wanted to do."

- Giovanni, 11th grade

"Reading Buddies helped grow my leadership skills and helped me communicate with people that I hadn't met before."

- Ellie, 9th grade

"Reading Buddies helped me to grow as a mentor and leader. I learned that it takes an entirely different approach to encourage reading/literacy techniques. I learned to adapt my methods for the levels of my buddies and how to make reading more of a game to keep them involved"

- Lauren 11th grade

"Reading Buddies forced me out of my comfort zone, in a good way. I learned to be more responsible and gained valuable people skills. Reading books to kids requires patience and understanding the pace of the buddy you are reading to, their learning style, and that everyone is different. Trying to keep your buddy engaged with a book or activity is a lot more difficult than it seems and CRB helped me balance multiple things at once. Overall, I am a more confident and understanding after being a mentor."

- Adrianna, 12th grade

2020 Outcomes Report

Read more about our 2020 program highlights and impact on students

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