Oakland, CA

Oakland Reads 2020

Oakland Reads 2020 is a citywide initiative focused on the most important predictor of school success and high school graduation—grade-level reading by the end of third grade.  An initiative of the Oakland Literacy Coalition, OR2020 is a collaborative effort between the school district, city, local agencies and a network of organizations all committed to the success of early learners.  OR2020 is leveraging partnerships to create community solutions and results.

Oakland Reads 2020 (OR2020) aims to double the percent of Oakland students reading successfully by the end of third grade. We envision an Oakland where at least 85 percent of our students are reading at grade level by the end of third grade by 2020 -- a critical indicator of future success. We are mobilizing the community to build a commitment and take action around four key pillars of reading success:

  • Kindergarten Readiness
  • School Attendance / Chronic Absence
  • Summer Learning
  • Family Engagement.

Schools cannot succeed alone.  We believe that the academic success of children requires engaged communities mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents to serve as full partners in the success of their children. OR2020 is mobilizing the community to take action around four key pillars of reading success.

Our Goal:  By the Year 2020, at least 85% of Oakland students will be reading proficiently when they finish third grade

Together OR2020 has mobilized community members and built commitment to a common goal:  85% of Oakland third graders reading at or above grade-level by the end of third grade.  And we know it will take every one of us.  The OR2020 effort spearheaded by the Oakland Literacy Coalition and the Mayor’s office has been firmly grounded in a community network of providers and practitioners.  That foundation has proven critical in gaining momentum and support.  A steering Committee of 7 key local agencies has been active in 2013 to guide and support the initiative.   Bringing partners to the table has been a key function of OR2020 and continues to be a priority.

OR2020 has cultivated partnerships, engaged stakeholders from across the city, and focused on projects aimed at supporting our key strategy areas.  The new Oakland Reads 2020 website and social media platforms have helped raise the profile of the challenge set forth by OR2020.  The Community Voices Blog has been sharing community stories of the great work happening in Oakland in support of the Oakland Literacy Coalition and OR2020.

OR2020 has been focusing its early efforts on some key projects and issues aimed at sounding a call to action, mobilizing the community, creating sound infrastructure for the initiative and supporting early learners.  The efforts highlighted below represent a cross-section of work being led by Oakland Reads 2020. 

Oakland Reads 2020 Symposium

Over 150 community members joined us on June 17th for our official Oakland Reads 2020 Launch.   For 5 hours the Downtown Oakland Marriot transformed into a dynamic zone dedicated to laying out the challenges facing our early learners.   Our speakers shared their leadership and inspiration for the OR2020 vision, and our sessions asked participants to draw on a common agenda for Oakland’s kids.  Plenary speakers Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Managing Director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Ralph Smith, and then OUSD Superintendent Tony Smith all joined our call to action and emphasized the critical importance of early learning outcomes and opportunities for Oakland.  Our roughly 150 session participants joined workshops around our 4 pillars designed to lay the foundation for collective impact and action in Oakland, as well as sessions on community engagement and Black male achievement. 

Our closing speaker and former Superintendent Tony Smith helped us close by reminding us that “literacy is a community activity…through literacy you give children the power of agency, and a way to make a better life and a better world.”  By the end of the day, we had put a stake in the ground and called our community to action.

Using participant feedback we have been able to build a bigger tent and engage new stakeholders and leaders in our work and draw on community expertise around action areas.  OR2020 will be planning annual general community convenings to share and build community solutions.

Planning for Action

OR2020 is committed to the principals of Collective Impact.  We spent 2013 building a deeper understanding—and commitment—to collective impact with partners across the city.  OR2020 has a strong partnership with Urban Strategies Council to build an effective framework to organize for action.  We’ve carefully developed a set of indicators to help track progress and develop a Baseline & Formative Report (to be released in 2014) led by Urban Strategies Council, which will inform the basis of new working groups charged with developing action plans and strategies around the OR2020 pillars.

OR2020 is committed to creating a strong infrastructure to support the initiative, enable strong cross-sector collaboration to achieve our goals, and bring forth new ways for all our stakeholders to find engage with the initiative.

Volunteering & Supporting Schools

Beginning with our strong showing of Brookfield Village Elementary School partners supporting literacy through Family Reading Nights, the Reading Challenge, and regular meetings to improve collaboration, we have been increasing our efforts to build alliances with schools. This year we have highlighted activities to support schools and show the power of volunteers.  We are proud of all our volunteers who helped us launch our first series of School Work Days—volunteer days to support projects in local schools.  This fall we organized 5 “Book Leveling Parties” with over 90 volunteers gathering in schools to “level” classroom libraries so they are teacher and student ready.  These classroom libraries are directly tied to Oakland Unified School District’s efforts to promote balanced literacy and support tools for the new common core curriculum. As part of this effort, OR2020 was successful in fundraising $85,000 to provide balanced book sets to preschool to third grade classrooms in 26 schools.  With a strong showing and support for School Work Days, we will continue to prioritize opportunities for supporting schools, organizing community oriented projects, and engaging volunteers.

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