Volunteer Tutors: Changing the Trajectory of Thousands of Lives – and a Community – At the Crossroads

By Jim Wambach | July 10, 2018

Perspectives article by Jim Wambach, Executive Director

This year’s Hope for Children Now Gala was a wonderful celebration. It was an opportunity to unite our Children Rising community, applaud the progress made by our children and youth, acknowledge the dedication of our volunteer tutors and mentors, and remind each other of the journey ahead. Two key thoughts emerged from the evening…

There is an urgent, time-sensitive need to help our children who are at the crossroad of promise and risk. Of the 4,000 Oakland Unified School District children in the second grade this year, it’s estimated that 1,800 will complete third grade next year while testing substantially below their grade level in reading and/or math.

Your support has helped struggling children like Itzayana read at grade level. More volunteer tutors are needed to help the many students still in need of reading and math tutoring.

Once these children fall behind, it becomes increasingly difficult, and often impossible, for them to catch up in future grades. This begins a very predictable cycle where these children become increasingly frustrated, lose self-confidence, and can eventually drop out of school, join gangs, or end up in prison. Oakland Unified School District experiences a high school dropout rate almost 400% higher than San Jose Unified and San Francisco Unified!

The good news is that it’s not only possible, but also relatively simple to change all of this. A volunteer tutor can help a struggling second-grader achieve grade-level skills in reading or math and energize a renewed self-confidence and love of learning. This child is likely to consistently progress not only in reading and math, but also in all other subjects taught each successive year of their primary education.

However, we have to help these children NOW, during their early years in elementary school when they are already at a major crossroad of life. Each second-grader that is NOT helped is at high risk of becoming another statistic of failure in future years.

Nathan Talavera was awarded a college scholarship at the 2018 Hope For Children NOW Gala. Volunteer tutors and mentors helped Nathan succeed at school.

Nathan received mentoring and support at a crucial time in his life. In the fall he will enroll in community college thanks, in part, to a scholarship from Children Rising.

Oakland and the East Bay are full of people like you with amazing spirit.  This newsletter reaches over 900 individuals. If each of you encouraged one of your friends or colleagues to volunteer, there could be an additional 900 tutors! That’s 900 additional volunteer tutors and mentors who will provide life-changing tutoring and support to an additional 1,800 children!

Please help us spread the word about how each person in the community can, with a small investment of time and love, substantially change the life of a child.

It starts right here, with you and me. I hope you will continue to help us change the trajectory of thousands of lives – and a community – at the crossroads.



YES, I want to help spread the word. Let’s talk!

  I want to host a micro-event or recruit a tutor. Tell me more

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs.