Monday, November 7, 2016

Thank you to...

... everyone who made our WIZdom of God production a success!

To First Covenant Church for allowing us to use your space and equipment.

To Gwen and Paul Stephens, and all the cast members for making the musical a labor of love.

To Ms. Nzuri and the Nzuri Soul Band for your terrific musical accompaniment.

To the Crystalette singers, the children’s choir, and the Sound and Tech Team for your hard work and support.

We are also deeply grateful to those of you who donated money to CareerBridge and those of you who signed up to become CareerBridge mentors.

Change a Child's Life (and Your Own)

By Eric Steckel, digital media consultant

After teaching students for over 30 years, Vivian received a most unexpected gift.

“A dear friend and I were walking our favorite trail in Lafayette, out in the fresh air and experiencing God's nature,” she explains. “Kim had been tutoring students, and asked me to join her. She just knew how much being with children and working with children fed my soul, and urged me to join her.”

That first encounter with Kim was just a little seed.

Vivian and her student last year
“It was a simple invitation, but it had big meaning for me.” Vivian accepted the invitation, and began tutoring second and third grade students that fall. Her first students were already two years behind in their reading skills, but Faith Network of the East Bay’s Succeeding by Reading program was so well organized, that she could step in and immediately make an impact.

“That first day tutoring really set the stage for my anticipation and encouragement to come back and to be a part of that wonderful organization.” Vivian explained.

Not every week is not easy though...

Some days the kids just aren’t ready to learn. They’ve forgotten their material, or they’ve come to the session out of sorts, or they’re hungry and irritable. “There are days, and weeks, when it’s really hard to have the children focus, and to feel like you're making some progress with them,” Vivian explains. “It can be difficult, whether you have been a teacher or not.” She is quick to point out the importance of the training that Faith Network provides, and the comradery of her fellow tutors.

“Sometimes it's really helpful to have a chance to talk to the other tutors, or to the program director. They help overcome some hurdle that you, or the student, can't quite get beyond. And to know that each week is another step in their lives, and in yours too.”

“It will give you a new purpose and joy in life working with them."

“To have one-on-one time with a child is a rare privilege,” says Vivian. “They're little sponges that soak up not just what you're teaching them but how you're loving them. It's a great privilege to have those children that God gives me time with, and their progress by the end of the year is remarkable.”

Tutoring is truly a highlight of her week, and Vivian can’t wait to meet the next child she will tutor in the upcoming school year.

Your gift will help us accomplish our goal…

This fall we’ve embarked on our Second Matching Fund Campaign.  We’re seeking to match $60,000 pledged by major donors. The challenge is to raise an additional $60,000 by November 30 to reach our Matching Fund goal of $120,000.

The hundreds of donors and volunteers who support Faith Network are helping underperforming students reach their potential. Your financial gift helps loving tutors like Vivian make a difference in the lives of  at-promise youth.

You can send your check via snail mail (note Challenge Fund on the memo line) to the address below, or you can donate online by going to:

PRESIDENT'S CORNER: The Literacy Crisis

Early childhood literacy is a national issue that will directly impact the future vitality and economic well-being of our communities and our country as a whole. Fourth graders shown to be reading “below basic” are four times more likely to drop out of high school – hindering their chances to live a healthy, productive life. According to US Department of Education, 60 percent of America’s prison inmates are illiterate and 85 percent of all juvenile offenders have reading deficiencies.

Closer to home, some 60 percent of second graders in the Oakland Unified School District read below grade level. If struggling students do not receive effective interventions early, they are less likely to become proficient by the fourth grade. Faith Network’s Succeeding by Reading (SbR) initiative makes possible what our dedicated teachers wish they could do but can’t: provide one-on-one literacy tutoring, which combines a caring relationship with personalized strategies that produce evidence-based results. Sixty-five percent of the students enrolled in Excel Reading Clinics advance by two or more grade levels by the end of the school year. Having learned to read they can now read to learn. Reading proficiently with understanding is the goal – resulting in kids becoming lifelong learners and productive citizens.

Here's how you can help:
  • Join our growing team of Excel Reading Clinic tutors. Your personal investment of one to two hours almost any day of the week can literally change the trajectory of a child’s life. And the life that’s changed may also be your own! Faith Network of the East Bay is an Oakland education nonprofit that provides the training and ongoing support for you to be a successful literacy tutor. Contact Rebecca Buckley at or call Pearl Wang at (510) 836-5100 to become a reading volunteer.
  • Support our Second Matching Fund Campaign. We must have the necessary funds to employ a professional staff so that our volunteer tutors have the ongoing training and support they need to be effective and efficient. Additional funds are required to purchase an array of leveled books, literacy materials and student workbooks, and that’s in addition to volunteer screening expenses. Every dollar received this month will be matched by generous donors who have pledged $60,000 to our Matching Challenge Fund. The challenge is to raise the additional $60,000 by November 30 to reach our Matching Fund goal of $120,000. Please visit to make a donation.

Your partnership is essential to Faith Network’s mission of preparing today’s youth for fulfilling, productive living in the 21st century. Every investment will be a gift that keeps on giving – yielding returns for generations to come.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

We're Off to See The WIZdom of God!

On Saturday, October 15, 2016, Faith Network of the East Bay is proud to present a one-time only production of The WIZdom of God. Inspired by both The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz, The WIZdom of God follows Dorothy and her little dog Total Mess on their adventure to the Crystal City to meet the Voice of God. This Christian-themed musical is the centerpiece of our Fall Fundraiser to raise money for our CareerBridge mentorship program.

The WIZdom of God is the creative brainchild of Daughters of Grace, a group of
sister singers that include our very own staff members, CareerBridge and Science Horizons director Margena Wade-Green and Succeeding by Reading clinic coordinator Gwen Stephens. The talented cast is supported by a local band, Ms. Nzuri and the Nzuri Soul Band. You will hear variations on familiar tunes from the original musicals and classic songs off the radio. Dinner will be available for purchase. There will be a raffle, bake sale, and more!

The WIZdom of God promises to be a fun-filled affair with lots of audience
participation, especially for children. Please join us for this family-friendly
fundraiser! Spend some time somewhere over the rainbow, while supporting
CareerBridge at the same time.

Are you wistfully thinking, “if I only had a ticket”, my pretty? No need for ruby red or silver slippers. Just follow the yellow brick road...

The WIZdom of God

Meet the Scarecrow, Tin Foil, Dorothy, the Lioness, and Total Mess

Saturday, October 15, 2016

First Covenant Church

4000 Redwood Rd, Oakland

Doors open at 3:15 pm. Show starts at 4:00 pm.

 Tickets on sale now!
$25 at the door
$20 General Admission pre-sale
$15 pre-sale for Seniors, $20 at the door
$10 Children 3-10 years old
Children 2 years and under, free admission

Other activities:
• raffle prizes
• Auntie Em’s Supper
• Dorothy’s Bake Sale
• Uncle Henry’s Barnyard Sale
• Dorothy & Friends selfies
• silent auction

"If I only had a ticket...!"

To purchase tickets
phone our office at (510) 836-5100.

President's Corner: Point of Viewing

Randy Roth
Stand three people side by side to watch an event, get them alone afterward and ask what they saw and it’s likely you will hear three different accounts. Why? Because one’s point of view depends on one’s point of viewing.

Not long after Faith Network launched in 2001, I was introduced to a book that altered my point of viewing. Educator Timothy Stuart, over the course of 12 months, interviewed people from a wide range of backgrounds to identify key factors that contributed to their success. The results of the interviews yielded two recurring themes:

  1. Adversity provides a catalyst for a child’s character growth and is essential to success, and
  2. A trusting relationship with a caring adult helps a child interpret adversity and develop perseverance.

Stuart’s findings led him to write Children At Promise, a book that not only changed my point of viewing but also challenged my stereotyping. No longer do I label an Oakland child, rich or poor, as “at risk”. Stewart helped me recognize that 100% of our children are at risk, including those who grow up in affluent communities, but that 100% are also “at promise”. No child is exempt from adversity. No adult is a self-made success. Cesar Chavez aptly put it this way: “You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.”

Stuart observed: “These two elements – adversity and a trusting relationship – interact with each other to create a fertile environment critical for a child’s positive growth and development. Children are better equipped for successful, life-enhancing growth when they experience difficult trials in the context of a meaningful relationship with a caring adult.”

Faith Network has come to the poignant realization that a trusted relationship can help kids rise above adversity – and succeed not only in spite of it, but because of it.

For the children,
Randy Roth
President of Faith Network

Volunteer Voices: Walt Crockett

Walt Crockett
CareerBridge mentor
Why do I volunteer? The youth. Oakland has a lot of needy youth. It’s paramount to help them out. The kids that I’ve seen come through [CareerBridge], in the short amount of time that I’ve known, have really grown. And I’d like to see more kids with that opportunity to come close to their potential-- their total potential-- rather than be swallowed up by the wrong element that’s here in Oakland. Without the help to close the gap, they’re not close enough. So having a group like Faith Network of the East Bay out there, give the kids hope that they can do better than where they’re at. Hanging out on the corner late at night is not a good thing. We have kids walking the streets late at night here where they should be at home studying or sleeping. There’s quite a bit of violence. Hanging out on the streets, even if you’re a good kid, could be the death of you. And it’s happening all over really, not just Oakland. I would think that having some sort of a direction, better than where they’re at, would give them more encouragement to stay in school, and to hang out with the right people, people who will steer them in the right direction.