We Give Back: Bay Area Vlociters Support Literacy
Bay Area Vlociters came together to collect books and support children’s literacy nonprofit Reading Partners at Bella Vista Elementary School in Oakland, CA.
Reading is the foundation for all learning. Yet, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, the numbers are staggering - 93 million American adults read at or below the basic level.
Fortunately, there are nonprofits and programs that mobilize communities to provide students with the support they need to read at grade level by fourth grade. One such program is Reading Partners. In 2018 and 2019 alone, Reading Partners worked with 11,038 students across the U.S. to help them “become proud, confident learners ready for success.”
In the past year, Reading Partners have worked with Bella Vista Elementary School in Oakland, CA, and when Claire Elowitt, Vlocity Sr. Employee Engagement Specialist, was looking for a national nonprofit to partner with for the Vlocity Gives Back program last November, the Book Drive was born. Employees collected new and gently used books suitable for children from ages 6 - 9, and within a few weeks, Vlocity had over 40 fiction and nonfiction titles to donate to the program.
During the book drop-off in January 2020, Elowitt sat down for a conversation with Ruth Liou, Reading Partners Lead Tutor, to learn more about the Reading Partners program and their work with Bella Vista Elementary School.
Claire Elowitt, Vlocity Sr. Employee Engagement Specialist: Ruth, how many students are currently in the program?
Ruth Liou, Reading Partners Lead Tutor: We categorize fully enrolled as students who attend at least two sessions per week with a tutor. Right now we have 33 students enrolled with an end of year estimate of 40 - 50 students total.
Elowitt: Tell us a bit about reading partners and the school.
Liou: This is Reading Partners first year at Bella Vista. We have the bulk of our students in 2nd and 3rd grade to help support students getting on grade level by 4th grade. The principal made this push to help ensure the students are ready to take on the more complex materials delivered in 4th grade. We just conducted our mid year assessment, which showed us that the students are all making progress and getting closer to grade level.
Elowitt: How do students get into your program?
Liou: Students are recommended by teacher referral based on their reading level.
Elowitt: How many students are English language learners?
Liou: Roughly half. What is cool is that we try to match students with tutors who speak their native language whenever possible. The school also has a really great system that allows us to text parents, and it will convert our message into their native language, which is immensely helpful in staying connected to the families and letting them know about their student’s progress.
Elowitt: Can you tell us how you’ll be using the books we’ve collected at Vlocity?
Liou: In order to maximize the accessibility of these books we’re going to keep them in our read aloud library, which means they will be read every day by the students in the program. In Reading Partners each lesson starts with a tutor doing a 10 minute read aloud to the student, and then the student is able to do guided 1:1 reading with their tutor.
Elowitt: What are some challenges you face?
Liou: At this point in the year most of our students have read through most of the books in our library, so getting new ones is fantastic! Additionally, getting books that reflect the students who are in the school is tough, so getting books where the kid looks like the person on the cover is always really helpful in keeping the students engaged and excited!
Learn more about Reading Partners by visiting their website: readingpartners.org.
Vlocity Value - We Give Back: Giving back is becoming increasingly important and is prioritized in the enterprise technology business community nowadays. Since the founding of the company, one of Vlocity’s core values has been “We Give Back.” This value aligns with those of Salesforce closely, particularly when it comes to Vlociters volunteering their time or corporate charitable donations in the health and human services arena. This post is one in a series of posts sharing stories of our employees, customers, and partners giving back in a wide variety of ways.