Today, in Oakland, California, less than half of third graders read at grade-level. The Oakland Literacy Coalition brings together families, schools and community partners all committed to the reading success of Oakland’s youngest learners.

When we first met with the Rogers Foundation’s Cassie Perham and Sanam Jorjani, they sought strategic communications to better engage their audiences and champion literacy in their home town. Initially, MDC fulfilled their capacity needs for storytelling and to expand their digital presence.

We quickly came to the conclusion that by shifting and focusing their strategy, the Coalition could be a better literacy catalyst. Through our close work with these two rising leaders, Oakland Reads 2020 was re-positioned as a citizen engagement campaign of the Oakland Literacy Coalition. And the Coalition, shifted from a challenging collective impact structure to one emphasizing the Coalition’s strongest work – supporting and strengthening Oakland’s active and diverse literacy tutors, teachers and advocates. The Oakland Literacy Coalition is now an independent organization, and its clarity of purpose  and connection to partners are stronger than ever.

MDC provided the strategic communications counsel and capacity to support the Coalition’s move to independence with new branding, a new website, and content to tell its story.


by Jessica Scadron, MDC Network

We were honored to host over 130 literacy champions, from educators to city council members, such as Dan Kalb and Vice-Mayor Anne Campbell Washington; educators; literacy providers; volunteers; funders; non-profit leaders and many others dedicating their lives to equipping Oakland’s kids with the tools they need to succeed in school and in life.  Because, as Cassie Perham of the Coalition said, “Reading is a right that should be afforded to every child.”  A major theme emerged from this year’s event: connection.