Read-Aloud Volunteer Program (Read-Aloud) is a relationship-based program that fosters in children the joy and love of learning through reading and story-telling.
Read-Aloud is modeled after Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) in Oregon. We pride ourselves in the work we do and honor SMART for its innovative work to support children living in underserved communities of color. We stay true to SMART’s mission and are on a similar quest to help the deeply diverse communities of Richmond, San Pablo and surrounding areas become more equitable through the Read-Aloud Volunteer Program. As such, we have modeled our statement of equity on SMART’s (to see the original document, go to: http://www.getsmartoregon.org/about-smart/equity/).
Our Commitment to Equity
Read-Aloud’s goals were to build a structure of volunteers to support and improve reading outcomes for children in under resourced communities in Richmond and surrounding areas. Read-Aloud organizes volunteer one-on-one reading opportunities in elementary schools to help children develop literacy skills, self-confidence, and a love of reading. Literacy creates opportunities and choices for children; a lack of reading skills limits those opportunities and choices.
As an early literacy program focused on helping children succeed with reading and learning, we acknowledge that deep racial, cultural, social, and economic inequities in our country and state make it harder for some children to succeed compared to others. We know that children need different inputs to reach the same outcomes. Read-Aloud works with children to support meeting or exceeding the third-grade reading benchmark.
Research proves that the education gap between white students and students of color arises for a number of reasons. The children we serve are from many different backgrounds, some of which create advantages or disadvantages in the education system. Our country, state, and society also perpetuate systemic, institutional, and cultural biases that reinforce inequality. These inequities and inequalities stand in the way of succeeding at our mission.
Together with our network of volunteers reading with students each year, we have an opportunity to change the story when it comes to the education gap. We have a responsibility to better understand and serve the children in our program and to examine our organization, systems, and policies for bias and inequities. We expect equity to be prioritized in every facet of our organization, effecting:
- The children and families we serve
- The volunteers we recruit, train, and retain
- The staff we hire, train, and support
- The communities in which we serve and operate
We have an intentional focus on racial equity because inequities of a racial nature rise to the highest level of severity and negative impact on the educational outcomes of the students we serve. We also keep sight of other inequities and discrimination that exist for our children.
We acknowledge that this is a long and complex journey for any organization; Read-Aloud is committed to continual assessment and modification of our work.