The Jewish Coalition for Literacy (JCL) was created to foster a society where all children can read & have the tools they need to reach their full potential. Inspired by Jewish values of social justice and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), JCL mobilizes volunteer tutors of all backgrounds and supports parents and organizations to help struggling readers in grades K-5 throughout the Bay Area.

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The hallmark of JCL’s approach is building students’ relationship with caring adults by reading aloud together. Tutors use carefully selected books, and often integrate art projects, games and their own life experience into tutoring sessions to spark children’s curiosity and love of learning, strengthening their vocabulary and background knowledge to help them understand what they read and experience. This creates a special bond that fosters trust and spurs literacy and social-emotional growth by providing a safe space to make mistakes, think critically and develop confidence and self-esteem.

Most JCL students come from low-income families, read below grade level and perform poorly on state tests. Pre-pandemic, we were working with more than 50 schools across the Bay Area, most of which are Title I or Targeted Title one, meaning they serve a high-need population and many English Language Learners.

Since its inception, JCL has:

  • Trained and placed 6,000 community members as volunteer reading tutors in six Bay Area counties
  • Reached more than 15,000 children based on partnerships with:
    • More than 50 schools across six counties and numerous nonprofit partner sites
    • Dozens of synagogues and JCCs
    • More than one hundred Jewish day school students in 5th through 8th grade trained to mentor and read with younger children attending public school
  • Helped thousands of parents improve their children’s literacy skills and social-emotional growth
  • Distributed tens of thousands of books to children who otherwise would not have books at home.