Engage San Francisco Literacy has moved to an on-line and virtual format in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shelter-in-place order. 

Engage San Francisco Literacy

Through multiple partnerships with SFUSD and community-based organizations we have grown an intentional year-round literacy support project for Western Addition children and their families.

School Year Literacy Programs

Our school year Engage San Francisco Literacy program prepares, places and supports USF students to be highly trained reading tutors.  We educate USF students with knowledge of teaching and learning to read, adverse childhood events,  community history in the Fillmore/Western Addition, and educational equity as a lifelong disposition.

We partner with two San Francisco public schools - Rosa Parks Elementary School and Cobb Elementary – and with in three after-school programs – Booker T. Washington Community Center, Magic Zone, and Prince Hall Learning Center. 

All tutors in their first and second semester of employment with the America Reads program are enrolled in a one-credit course, which focuses on the development of their tutoring skills and capacities. Additionally, all tutors who have worked for more than two semesters participate in bi-monthly leadership meetings, facilitated by Engage San Francisco’s literacy coordinator. For more information contact Dresden Smith,

Summer Literacy Programs

Engage San Francisco supports two summer literacy programs:

USF/MoMAGIC/Heart2Heart Summer Reading Program supports children in grades K-5 from the Western Addition

Launched in 2004, and housed in the USF School of Education under the leadership of Professor Helen Maniates, Director of the Masters in Teaching Reading Program, the Summer Reading Program is designed and implemented in partnership with USF students and community based organization staff. From research on previous summer programs in 2016 and 2017, they have documented a statistically significant increase in words read correctly per minute, reading fluency, and reading comprehension on grade level reading passages for students in grades 1-5.  Students in grades 1-5 who attended 70% of the 2017 program showed a greater increase in motivation to read than the aggregate of all students enrolled.  The summers of 2018 and 2019 we implemented a Middle School component that includes regular field trips to USF. For Information, contact

Middle School Literacies for the 21st Century works with children in Grades 6-8

Grounded in literacy, identity, and equity, we support growth in print-based, information-based, and technological literacy while developing familiarity with the college environment to motivate later college attendance.  For more information, contact

Middle School Literacies: Our three main components

Literacy encompasses multiple forms of using language. We address summer learning loss in reading by improving students’ ability to self-monitor their understanding of text, employ strategies to focus on meaning-making, and develop greater stamina to engage with longer, more complex texts for longer periods of time. We develop students’ information literacy, to assess bias and reliability, separate facts from fraud, and use information to create knowledge and solve problems. Finally, we build students’ computer literacy, particularly their ability to code and create apps, webpages, games, and virtual worlds. 

Identity is about helping middle school youth develop as readers, future college-goers, and members of the tech workforce. Students build their identities as readers by finding their passions for various authors and genres of text.  By demystifying life on a college campus, we help students see themselves with a future in higher education. Students connect their passions and interests to potential areas of study in college. We address stereotype threat and work to build self-confidence in students’ identity as learners with a growth mindset, seeing themselves not as “smart” or “not smart” but as capable of learning when they put their energy towards that end.  The tech portion of the program helps students understand their multiple identities – racial, national, gender – and how the tech workplace presents challenges and opportunities for those identities. They see role models in tech sharing identities similar to their own. Middle school is a key time when young people begin to make plans for college and careers.

Equity is about making sure that literacy achievement, college attendance, and skills with technology are not dependent on unrelated factors like students’ race or parents’ income.  We seek equity so that colleges and workplaces reflect the diversity of communities we serve. We seek equity because academic and technical talent are distributed throughout the population regardless of race, income, and gender, and we need all that talent for the health of our community and planet.