Spring 2014 Newsletter


Growing Miracles

Sometimes you try to grow something but can’t, like your bank account, or tomatoes. Sometimes you try to shrink something but can’t, like the national debt, or your waistline. And sometimes things change size almost no matter what you do, like WriterCoach Connection.

Well, that change in size probably does involve what we do. WCC grows because more teachers and principals ask for us, and that’s because our writer coaches bring real value to school classrooms. Seems like every year we’re talking about new school sites, new teachers to serve, new students to help guide to effective writing and critical thinking. This year, we’re talking about Kennedy High in Richmond. A collaboration with the City of Richmond has brought funding from the Cities of Service program, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. So we’re delighted to be joining Principal Phillip Johnson and his staff in building writing skills in JFK classrooms beginning this fall.

And that’s not all. Berkeley High is also the site of new writer coaching, at the very school where WCC began 15 (!) years ago. We’re all smiles as we bring our coaches into the classrooms at the BHS Arts and Humanities Academy for the first time this fall. And we’re also planning a new writing-support program for a group of select Berkeley High students who are especially challenged with English language arts.

Something else that has to grow in tandem with this program expansion: our volunteer ranks. We trained more than 400 new coaches last year, and we’re at it again, with a whole new series of training classes in locations from Richmond to Oakland, from now through October. (
Sign up for training on our website!)

Finally, two more things that grow every year: our admiration for our peerless volunteer coaches and our gratitude for our matchless financial donors, as often as not, the same people. Because of them, every year about this time I remember something Berkeley teacher Mary Patterson once said to us: “Let me tell you what WriterCoach Connection is like for me. It’s like a miracle!”


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Robert Menzimer

Executive Director


Boomerang Coaches
College Kids Return to Their Old Schools

  stewartmlk2 2  Brittany Stewart knows firsthand what a positive impact a writer coach can have on a young student. She has been both. 

The San Francisco State junior, who was coached by WCC volunteers as an eighth grader at Berkeley’s King Middle School, returned the favor last year at her alma mater, and will coach again this semester at Berkeley High, where she also graduated.  more5 4

2013-14 Assesment:
New Model; Same Great Results

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The 2013–14 school year marked the revamping of our annual assessment report, to reflect a new Results Based Accountability model. A new protocol, however, did not change the results. As in previous years, survey responses describe overwhelming appreciation for WriterCoach Connection, and other program metrics reflect clear gains in student writing.  more5 4

Drumming Up Coaches Under the Sun

 Photosfromsummer2014 2 Friends of WriterCoach Connection reached out at East Bay events this summer including, clockwise from top left, Karen Larson at the Solano Stroll, Maureen Dixon at the Stroll, Ann Fields at Berkeley's Juneteenth and Jeanne Schuman at the Art & Soul Festival in Oakland.

Cal Student Writer Coaches Take Off

courtneysmall 2With help from the UC Berkeley WriterCoach Connection student organization, Courtney Tam, this year's WCC Cal student manager, leads the charge to recruit new Cal volunteers this fall. Last year more than 50 Cal students helped fill coach teams in Berkeley. Says Tam: “When I saw my student change from a very reluctant writer with nothing on the page to a student bursting to read his three-page paper, I realized the value of coaching, and I find it so rewarding.”

Getting Ready for College Conference


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For the fifth year running, WriterCoach Connection volunteers are gearing up to help high school students craft their college essays at this conference with two 60-minute workshops on Saturday, September 27, 9 a.m.–1:30 p.m. at De Anza High School, 5000 Valley View Road, Richmond. Before GRFCC, there will be an optional orientation for coaches seeking information about the college essay. The coach orientation information and 2014 essay prompts will be sent with the confirmation of your RSVP to Beverly Roberts Charles, WCC Richmond Program Manager.

Lamott Headlines First 2015 Fundraiser

lamottWriterCoach Connection is planning a year of first-rate fundraising events in 2015 to celebrate our 15th year of success, and help us on the way to another 15 plus. Renowned author Anne Lamott will join Linda Watanabe McFerrin, in conversation on writing and creativity on January 30, 2015 at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Tickets will go on sale starting October 10. In spring, we’ll enjoy our biannual trip to Oliver Ranch. Then we’ll be back for our 7th annual Read-and-Write-a-thon as we wind down another school year in May.

Reaching Up to 1,000 Facebook Likes 

1000Thumbs Up! We’re counting down — or is it up? —  to 1,000 page likes by posting the name and photo of the last 10 people who like our Facebook page — from 991 to 1,000. The 1,000th person who likes our page will win a free WriterCoach Connection T-shirt… and get a photo taken wearing it. Could it be you?  more5

Take Us to the Top of GreatNonprofits

greatnonprofitsWe’re a Gold-level rated non-profit organization because we’ve demonstrated our commitment to fiscal and organizational transparency, according to GuideStar, a public charity that provides key information about nonprofits to a broad audience. GuideStar's nonprofit partner, GreatNonprofits, will give us a top rating if Community Alliance for Learning receives 10 positive (4 stars or above) reviews and maintains an overall positive average for the year. Get us to the top in 2014: Review and rate us here.

WriterCoach Connection kis a program of Community Alliance for Learning, a (501)(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  

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Community Alliance for Learning
PO Box 6098
Albany, California 94706

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