Full and Complete Reading is a Universal Mandate

represents the point of equilibrium at which everything is in balance - people's lives, our communities, our society at large.

This will only be achieved when all people have had access to high quality, evidence-based literacy instruction . Period.

Our Goal

to ensure that every Oakland child is an 'on-time' reader

provided with full LITERACY:

a fundamental civil right,

a powerful protection from the school to prison pipeline,

and the cornerstone for

a life of choice and fulfillment

Our Approach

We are laser-focused on promoting instruction, professional development, and curricula based in the science and with proof of working in the conditions found in our schools: with our kids in our community, and with all kids in all communities.

Boy reading a book


  • Abundantly spreading the word through presentations, YouTube videos, and interviews

  • Providing administrators, teachers, and parents access to The Science of Reading so they are educated in 'The Why' and equipped to make informed decisions around literacy instruction.

  • Identifying and sharing research, curricula and technology to serve as a resource for systems, teachers, administrators, and parents looking for evidence-based solutions.

  • Ensuring that dyslexia, one of the main causes of low reading achievement, is at the forefront of all considerations. We know, if the kids with dyslexia are ok, all students are ok.

  • Coming soon! Co-creating a parent course in the Science of Reading to pilot in 2021-22.

Merging train tracks


  • Pushing on K-12 school systems to learn, adopt, support and implement, with confidence & fidelity, core methodologies that work for ALL children.

  • Challenging assumptions and providing an asset-based lens to have difficult conversations.

  • Using long-time, deep Oakland relationships to keep change possible. We stay in constant communication and relationship with the local systems' decision makers including district and charter, union, and board leadership. Even when it's tough; especially when it gets tough.

  • Encouraging "Teacher Ed" programs to examine the impact of the content of their early literacy instruction on student achievement and align with research-based methodology and hiring needs of K-12 systems.

Smiling woman in a meeting


  • Giving policymakers access to data, research, and the impact of decisions on the lived experiences of students and their families.

  • Connecting diverse stakeholders in Oakland's education ecosystem to align historically separated factions to collaborate in catalytic change for children.

  • Providing resources and training to parents that allow them to productively connect with schools about their child's progress.

  • Building aligned coalitions with community, parent, and professional groups that support the change-management process.

  • Connecting with larger community through social media to engage in healthy dialogue with supporters, resistors, and fellow-learners.

The Problem

Oakland students are in crisis.

The Why

Reading programs don't match the research consensus and brain science.

The Fulcrum

No matter what you call it - Structured literacy, Evidence-based literacy, Research-based literacy, Science of Reading - the five components BELOW must be present in an effective reading instruction, one that will lift

ALL children to literacy and liberation.

Some Wins & What's Next

We keep our most essential objective - leading ALL students to become proficient readers - at the forefront of all our actions.

We push on K-12 school systems to learn, adopt, support and implement, core literacy methodologies that work for ALL children.

Win: After 10 years of using curricula without effective foundational skills blocks, our initiative has already helped move OUSD and the largest Oakland-based CMOs to pivot to structured literacy. We have facilitated collaboration between the organizations ensuring they are able to learn from each other. Educate for Change, for example, was the earliest adopter and opened their schools for community walkthroughs and ongoing learning. And the work continues: Monitoring and engaging the curriculum adoption and implementation processes in OUSD, facilitating stakeholder engagement to promote buy-in, ensuring school systems follow best practices which optimize positive outcomes.

Along with the Oakland NAACP and a dozen other community-based co-petitioners, we co-filed an administrative petition demanding 8 actions of the OUSD’s Board of Ed.

The petition requests "relief" on 8 actions to ensure evidence-based literacy practices are present in the district and benefiting all children. Win: 4 of the 8 demands have been met, or are on their way to being met. The work continues: Pushing on K-12 stakeholders and the OUSD Board of Education to attain all 8; only then will OUSD be able to provide a solid foundation for full literacy for all in the district.

We work with Teacher Ed programs to examine the impact of their training on student achievement.

Wins: (1) Holy Names University (HNU) and Mills College's Ed Depts., and several professors from UC Berkeley have co-signed onto the Oakland NAACP's literacy petition (2) HNU has opened their Orton Gillingham training to all interested teachers through their summer institute (3) Alder Graduate School of Education is teaching the Science of Reading and evidence-based reading methodologies. The work continues: In partnership with FULCRUM, more local universities, and alternative pathway programs continue to shift toward evidence-based literacy methodologies to meet the growing demand of K-12 stakeholders. By request, FULCRUM is planning a course in the Science of Reading for teacher candidates as well as contributing keynotes and workshops on the importance of research-based literacy practices to community colleges' Teach for the Bay, Oakland Literacy Coalition's literacy symposium and other conferences.

We provide caregivers access to the knowledge they need to be informed advocates for their children and empowered to engage with school systems.

Win: By partnering with professional development providers, FULCRUM is co-creating an online class (in English and Spanish) for parents in the Science of Reading. Our plan is to equip caregivers to key knowledge and tools to engage other parents, teachers, administrators, and systems around research-based literacy. The work continues: We will pilot the class with West Contra Costa families during the 2021-2022 academic year. FULCRUM, along with local NAACP branches and Latino education groups plan to play an active role in parent recruitment. We are currently looking for funders to support our expansion into Oakland.

We provide direct service and concrete tools to students and schools in dire need of effective literacy instruction now, improving literacy outcomes and creating proof points for a path forward.

Children's education cannot wait while school systems' go through the - often prolonged and fraught - change-management process of pivoting to structured literacy. Wins: (1) During Fall of 2020, we distributed over 900 Onetabs to our most vulnerable emergent readers from TK-1st grade classrooms in key schools. This reading courseware won the X-prize for literacy potential and provided an effective and autonomous stopgap during the Covid-19 disruption in education (2) We sponsored over 40 teachers from strategically chosen school teams to attend excellent PD in the Science of Reading; several have taken on leadership roles (3) We have sponsored intensive and effective intervention for several students in extreme reading crisis. The work now: Continue to provide professional development for educators and support our "Reading Refugees".

We support key policy and legislative shifts that promote a structural, systemic effort to ensure all students become on-time readers.

These important pieces of legislation provide educators and parents with the pedagogical and legal clarity needed to recognize and interpret challenges with an asset lens and move towards literacy practices that work for the greatest number of students while also providing structural safeguards that uproot the popular "wait to fail" model of literacy instruction and intervention. Wins: (1) OUSD signed an MOU, an agreement clarifying its literacy policy, agreed to join the Literacy for All Campaign, and affirmed the importance of an evidence-based approach to reading instruction (2) California's senate passed a dyslexia screening bill, a key tool for educators and parents. The work goes on: FULCRUM supports policy that (1) ensures the greatest outcomes for the greatest number of students and (2) ensures that the necessary structures being adopted for better student outcomes are reflected within the educators' contract.

Making systems level changes through deep research, spreading the word, and winning hearts and minds.

  • General operating on the ground: Engaging in strategic work with local k-12 stakeholders | Partnering with Oakland NAACP | Supporting key legislation | Promoting the Science of Reading and evidence-based literacy through presentations | Building relationships with Teacher Ed programs | Developing Science of Reading course for caregivers | Co-sponsoring administrative petition for BOE | Sponsoring Onetab devices

  • Teacher Training: Sending teachers to CORE’s (exceptional) Online Elementary Reading Academy, structured literacy giants' Orton Gillingham, Lindamood Bell training, and to The Reading League's 'a la carte' customized workshops.

  • Direct emergency support for students in literacy crisis

  • Onetab devices: Distributing additional Onetab devices (Xprize winner, onebillion) to TK-2nd grade Oakland classrooms for small group work in schools with highest needs.

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Support our work!

DONATE via our fiscal sponsor Marcus Foster Education Institute (MFEI)
To find out more about our work contact liza@fulcrum-oakland.org

Also you can sign on to our Oakland NAACP Literacy Petition HERE

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