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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Tandem, Partners in Early Learning

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Child Day Care, Children & Youth, Education, Literacy, Preschools, Remedial Reading & Encouragement

Mission: Tandem partners with families, educators, and communities to surround young children with interactive learning experiences that spark joy and close the opportunity gap. Tandem has been providing services to Bay Area children, families, and educators for over 12 years. Tandem’s programming is rooted in the belief that high-quality early learning and strong family bonds can break the cycle of poverty and build brighter futures for children. Both strategies are effective on their own, but when approached together and with strong partnerships in the community, the results can be greater and more lasting. To that end, Tandem works in two program areas: Community Capacity-Building and Family Engagement. Tandem additionally offers a fee for service model where we provide trainings and technical assistance to service organizations, non-profits, and school districts that are interested in implementing and promoting early learning interventions.

Results: Tandem has served 100,000 children ages 0-6 and their families in three Bay Area counties (San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa) since 2003. Tandem’s programs focus on serving families whose children at greatest risk of falling behind: children living in poverty, English language learners, children of color, and children not enrolled in formal care settings or preschool.

Target demographics: children & families, early childhood educators, family support professionals, community members

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 15,000 children and their families

Geographic areas served: San Francisco, Alameda & Contra Costa Counties

Programs: educator workshops and support, parent training, and family literacy events, consulting for organizations seeking to embed family engagement strategies within their work, and family support professionals.

Community Stories

79 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a developer/researcher at Teachers College, Columbia University, I have had the pleasure of working with Tandem on a project aimed at developing workshop materials designed to promote parents' reading of math picture books with young children. The Tandem folks are real professionals. They care deeply about parents and children; they are very creative in developing workshop materials; and they conduct great parent workshops. A wonderful organization!

Herb Ginsburg

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Tandem program has helped my students enjoy reading. In addition, their vocabulary and letter recognition are increasing. The books are interactive so the students are engaged. By sending books home every week, the families are getting involved in their child's development of early literacy skills. it is an excellent program that is supporting my students in their reading development.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Working with Tandem is an amazing experience. All the staff is incredibly professional, friendly and dedicated to helping their communities. If Tandem agrees to help with an event they've always been extremely reliable. We have never had to worry about them being less than a perfect partner from beginning to end of any project. Our staff overall lacks bilingual skills so we especially appreciate that much of the staff is able to speak and write in Spanish. Tandem, Partners in Early Learning is making great strives in creating a more literate Contra Costa County.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Tandem does a phenomenal job working with various organizations in the area as well as families in the community.

Tandem brings a lot of awareness on the importance of early literacy. They have various programs that support early literacy which makes them unique. Their story cycles help several families in child care and preschool programs to continuously have books at their homes so they can read to their kids.

They also have a big variety of workshops and trainings for teachers and families. Their fun and interactive trainings for teachers give educators in the early childhood field ideas on how to incorporate books into their daily curriculum.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This summer I had the opportunity to intern at Tandem. Throughout my time, I have been incredibly impressed with all facets of this non-profit. All staff members are deeply committed and connected to the mission of improving early literacy which shows in daily conversation and in their approach to their programs. In addition, the team has trusted me from day 1 to work on valuable projects for the organization to improve its operations and evaluations. It has been extremely rewarding to see all of the positive feedback received from clients and utilizing those to refine what we do. I have nothing but respect for Tandem and am proud to have been able to work at an organization that aligns with my personal values.

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Client Served

Rating: 5

Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, is the definition of quality: a truly great resource for children, families and educators! Tandem places high-quality children's books in children's hands, making sure that all children have access to age-appropriate literature that reflects a broad range of cultures. Tandem affords the families that my school serves the opportunity to share quality books with their children at no cost. This helps our families tremendously because the majority of families we serve struggle financially.Even trips to the library can be challenging for a working family that may not have the classic 9-5, M-F job or personal transportation. Our school is also a non-profit and relies on contracts with multiple agencies and an annual fundraiser to keep us afloat. The governors budget effects us each year and some years we've barely survived (2008!). We could never afford the materials and variety of books to create our own school-to-home library but Tandem has given us this beautiful opportunity to enrich our families lives by providing them with meaningful, beautiful, developmentally-appropriate literature and expose them to ideas and cultures they may not have otherwise experienced.

We also benefit from Tandem's workshops that they present to families and educators. These workshops are so valuable because experts, such as our literacy specialist, Laura Rodriguez , share applicable information and activities regarding brain development, language and literacy development, social and emotional development and more. Having someone as fun and upbeat as Laura is wonderful because she gives information to adults in a fun, meaningful way. These workshops back-up what educators aim to teach families and it helps to have an outside expert deliver the information in a different, more hands-on way. Families leave with new skills and information and the feeling that they can help their child succeed in the best ways possible.
All our love and gratitude to Tandem and every agency and person who supports them!

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

I LOVE Tandem Partners in Early Learning and so does our staff, the families we serve and most of all, the children. Children and families look forward to taking home the high-quality children's books each week. They feel so proud to carry their green book bags to and from school! Tandem exposes adults and children to a large variety of children's books that are developmentally-appropriate and reflect the lives and communities of our families. Tandem also has helpful resources and information regarding language and literacy development and how to support children with these skills. Most of all, Tandem fosters a love for reading in adults and children alike!

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Client Served

Rating: 5

We have been working with Tandem as partners in serving child development centers in the Oakland Unified School District with our one-on-one reading program, Community Reading Buddies, for many years. Tandem helped train and prepare our volunteers with interactive materials to ensure their understanding of the literacy gap our work addresses and practical tools for mentorship effectiveness. Tandem also provided age-appropriate books for us to give to the children our program serves in Oakland.

1 Genni L.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our nonprofit has been partnering with Tandem for the past three years in a variety of projects. In everything we've done with Tandem, from family reading nights to literacy trainings of teen volunteers, we've found the staff to be thoughtful, professional, and knowledgable. Tandem has a wealth of resources that they aren't afraid to share; they are truly a community-minded organization and an asset to the Bay Area community!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Tandem is an organization that works with heart and creativity to empower families to support their young childrens' development using that age-old favorite--books!--as a catalyst and starting point for kids and their adult friends to cuddle up, tell stories, talk about pictures and words and life experiences....all of which build healthy brains in kids and set them up for success in school and life. Tandem's staff are experts in how to do this in all kinds of cultural and community settings. Now 10 years old, Tandem is entering our second decade with the leadership of our new ED, Dr. Savitha Moorthy, who brings a wealth of experience gained through research, on-the-ground community programming, and as the mom of a 3 year old. She brings expertise in STEM programming for early learners so we are excited to see how Tandem builds upon our core activities to reach more families and stretch us all in new directions.

Previous Stories
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Board Member

Rating: 5

Tandem is innovative and responsive to the community in its focus on improving early literacy --it has identified that by sparking joy in reading in kids and their families we can also help to close the achievement gap. Social justice and joyfulness are not often expressed as synergistic outcomes. One example of the way Tandem listens to the community is in the development of the new Literacy Champions program--which trains community members to work with their own peers to promote early literacy and spread the word about its importance in early brain development. Empowering for the Champions and effective spread of how to help children learn through reading.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our company, UserTesting, worked with Tandem to engage the folks up at our San Francisco office. The Tandem volunteer that lead the group activity (StoryBlocks) was very engaging, personable, and made the activity a lot of fun for everyone. In addition to this, people really appreciated having an understanding of what kind of impact the project we were working on would have on the local community. The Tandem volunteer was also very accommodating and provided us with more than enough flexibility to get even more people involved during (and even after) the event than we initially planned! All in all, we had a great experience, would absolutely love to partner with Tandem again, and highly recommend reaching out to them if you'd like to make a difference in your community!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We, here at UserTesting, had the best experience working with Tandem Bay Area! StoryBlocks is an awesome project for corporate groups, and it was fun to see people work together in creative ways. Lucas was our activity guide, and he helped to keep everything light hearted and easy to understand (those blocks aren't as easy to put together as one might think!). Additionally, Lucas was kind enough to let us hold onto some materials so that other people who weren't able to participate also had an opportunity to contribute on their own time! Knowing what kind of impact these blocks have on children was a message that, I think, was also really driven home. Would absolutely work with them again.

schieco

Board Member

Rating: 5

Tandem does excellent work in Early Childhood Education, with a very caring, hard-working staff. They run programs in three counties, and help with far more than just book bags. Every child should be able to read! They educate parents, medical professionals, and generally care a lot about helping to provide improved Early Childhood Education to all children.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our group of about 35 people had SUCH a wonderful experience working with Lulu who came in to our corporate HQ in order to give back for a few hours at the end our our 2-day leadership meeting.

Not only was her "ice breaker" so much fun as we got to know one another better, but she also explained and showed us where the Storyblocks that we created, who they would be going to and how they would help those in our community.

So thankful for all of the dedication and beneficial work that Tandem is doing throughout the San Francisco bay community! The community is so lucky to have you.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Best Storyteller and Literacy Partners. We are so blessed to have such a positive resource for weekly book bags to come home and for joining our major community events such as National Read for the Record night. The engagement is endearing and the access to books through lending and giving to families for intimate and group learning is an added bonus to anyone's life. Engaging young learners and showing them how fun stories can be only added to curiosity and more learning for our children with their families and Tandem's excellent staff.
Tandem really has a standout and positive approach to keep it positive and engaging.

Donor

Rating: 5

I give to Tandem because I loved reading books as a kid, and want every kid to have that wonderful experience! I'm so impressed with all they do, and know my donation will be used to "spark joy" for thousands of families. Thanks Tandem!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ive been volunteering with Tandem for a number of months and I love it. Tandem is committed to improving local early childhood education and is super effective at it. I’ve been super impressed with their programs! From my experience with other nonprofits, tandem is amazing!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with Tandem for a couple years now and only started donating this past year. I recently volunteered at their office in the Bayview in August 2018 and had a great time! Their staff were well-organized and had plenty of work for me to help out with. I got to make some StoryBlocks to give away to families as well as did some decorating and admin work in the office (we finalized and hung up some artwork and organized some children's books). It was easy to coordinate a time with Julie and they were accommodating of my schedule. I highly encourage other folks looking to make an impact in the SF Bay Area to get in touch with them and get involved. Keep up the great work Tandem!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Tandem is thoughtful about their mission. They're brimming with genuine people reinvesting in local communities and spreading education from the ground up. It has always been a pleasure volunteering with Tandem, they clearly love what they do and I'm honored to be a part of their team!

Kathie Q. A.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Kathie Autumn and I have managed the Treasure Island Child Development Center since 2011. It is with great pleasure that I support Tandem, Partners in Early Learning’s application for the Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation.

With over 40 years of experience working with children and being deeply embedded in the early childhood education landscape, I can tell you Tandem is easily one of our favorite partners. We serve low income children who often do not have access to books or opportunities to take trips into the city to attend the library due to working parents. Tandem makes my job easier by bringing the books, and even training, directly to our school site. Their staff provides fantastic Read Aloud demonstrations in each of the classrooms at our site where our teachers pick up great tips for engaging children in story time and build a love for books early! Most importantly, the children love the visits and storytelling from Tandem staff and get especially excited about the book bags filled with new titles weekly that they take home and share with their families. Parents love these also, and even share favorite book titles with teachers. This is an invaluable service for the children and families we serve, and the people who work at Tandem are the ones who make it all happen!

On top of it all, this past holiday season, Tandem partnered with Chronicle Books, a local book store, to donate and help purchase a brand new, high quality, age-appropriate book to each of our students. They gave the books away at our Holiday Pancake party (with help from Santa Claus) where they also provided an interactive Read Aloud demonstration (pictured right).

As part of our Impact Report, we have shown a 38% increase in Language and Literacy Development assessments with our children. Adding Tandem to our program has aided in this increase showing positive outcomes for children in this area.

I am deeply grateful for Tandem’s support of my work to educate young children and help them enjoy reading and learning. I couldn’t think of any organization more deserving of the Innovations in Reading award! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have additional questions.

Sincerely,


Kathie Q. Autumn; Program Director
Catholic Charities Treasure Island Child Development Center
850 Avenue D San Francisco CA 94130

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Museum of Children's Arts (MOCHA) has had the honor to collaborate with Tandem, Partners in Early Learning through our Library Education and Arts Program. Their ability to involve parents and children in the world of literacy and early learning through storytelling is a vital component to the development of young minds. Our mission to a hands on approach to learning aligns with their commitment to engage parents and children in the process of developing children that can be communicators, critical thinkers and agents of change.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Tandem Bookbag program provides exciting and age appropriate books for the parents of my students to make reading at home a positive experience. The books are free for the parents to use, therefore they will be more likely to read to their child on a consistent basis.
I teach students with autism and an IEP (individualized education plan). Parents are involved in developing their child's educational plan. The Tandem bookbag program provides a mean of helping school districts meet state standards by partnering with parents and involving them directly in their child's education.

Emily154

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a Tandem employee, I can't say how proud I am to work for an organization influencing impactful change in the community. Tandem's commitment to serving families with high-quality programs, as well as the commitment to supporting employee's professional development and goals makes this one of the best places to work and serve.

Previous Stories
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Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an employee, I have to say that this is the best place I've worked. The team is a true team - collaborating to meet our mission every single day. When I'm out in the field gathering photos and video footage to create educational videos or other videos that help raise awareness for our organization, it's a joy to hear how many educators, parents - and even children! - are so motivated and excited to be part of this program. I know that we're doing great work, and I'm proud to be on a team that is so well respected in our community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love making StoryBlocks with Tandem! They come to our office, and lead us through this fun activity while sharing how the toys will be used to bolster literacy in our community. My colleagues and I have fun, and know we're giving back to kids. Tandem - Keep up the great work!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Speaking as a board member, here is what I value most about Tandem as an organization and what inspires me to continue my involvement:
-The Executive Director is not only visible and vocal as a representative of Tandem but is a real public champion for Tandem and their work.
-As a board member, we are very clear about our responsibilities and we all take them seriously.
-The board is a diverse group of people that I truly believe is a reflection of the various communities that Tandem serves. And I believe that Tandem has worked to create a board with intention taking into consideration the skills and experience of their members and how they can support the needs of Tandem as an organization.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have only been impressed with Tandem. Their read alouds to students are incredibly animated, engaging, and just the spark students need to love learning. Attending their teacher, parent, and community trainings are also highly interactive. They strike a perfect balance of being easy to understand while also being sophisticated and backed by research. Program staff are clearly experts at their craft and highly intentional about what they do. I look forward to seeing Tandem grow and thrive in supporting families throughout the Bay Area.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at this incredible organization is always a joy ! The staff is so dedicated and enthusiastic about their mission and they carry out their objectives with deep convictions and never waining hard work. To work with this team inspires additional commitment to help in other areas of early childhood literacy. Tandem is a highly valued contributing member of the community and their good work has a ripple effect toward giving children a love of books and a head start into early literacy.

Donor

Rating: 5

I'm so happy to support such a fantastic organization, who work so hard to give books and the love of learning to families!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I enjoyed reading to kids and seeing their eyes light up with the stories!

Amando B.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I attended a Tandem workshop and saw firsthand how Tandem partners with educators to enhance their skills so kids understand, retain, participate, and have more fun when reading. I had some great take-aways, not intuitive by the way, that changed the way I read to my 2-year old. I feel they are an invaluable community resource we should all be thankful for.

Ryan H.1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Tandem is filling a need in the Bay Area and closing the opportunity gap that so many children face as they enter kindergarten. This organization is creative and thoughtful in their approach to their work, and creating impactful change. The staff are extremely talented and dedicated, not to mention strongly committed to the Tandem mission.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Working with Tandem is a joy. It's clear that Tandem staff members truly love the work they do, and truly care about the communities and the families they serve. When they host free workshops in the community, it's clear to see they bring a level of expertise, excitement, and fun to the experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

24 of us from our office volunteered with Tandem to build StoryBlocks. They were great to work with and even agreed to meet us at SoMa StrEat Food Park so we didn't have to travel after lunch and could do the activity outside. The activity was very easy to do and Lucas did a great job of explaining the impact we were making. Definitely recommend them for a group volunteer activity!

Sara R.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Tandem is a non-profit the so at operates with complete integrity and works hard serve families and communities where it's needed most. When they see a need, they go work to serve it. I have never known another organization to be so honest in their representation about the work that they do.

Jillian C.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I work for Martinez Early Childhood Center, a non-profit, state-funded school that serves families in the community so that they can work and/or attend school while their child is cared for in a safe environment. Tandem has been a gift to our families for the last two years. Families receive developmentally-appropriate children's books each week that they can take home and share with their children. Every week, the children proudly take home their book bags excited to see what new stories are waiting for them. I love Tandem's StoryCycles program. Children's books can be expensive and not every family has the luxury of time to go to the library. Tandem provides the convenience of a school-to-home borrowing system which in turn supports literacy development in our young children. We know how important it is for young children to be read to and have meaningful connections with their caregivers- StoryCycles is like a tool families can use to provide this for their children. The Tandem organization also hires the most amazing people! I think you have to have special DNA to work for them because everyone involved with Tandem is fabulously talented and has a huge heart. Our children love when out literacy specialist, Laura comes to read to the children and our families love the information she shares with them about brain and literacy development. Tandem adds something magical to our school that cannot be matched. Thank you Tandem, Partners in Early Learning!!

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Client Served

Rating: 5

My school loves partnering with Tandem! Our families love the StoryCycles program which has really enriched our school. Tandem offers wonderful family and teacher workshops as well. Thank you, Tandem for all that you do!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

This is a well run charity with highly professional and dedicated staff. They find solutions to the problem and are well respected by their partners and customers of other nonprofits, teachers, and parents.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Tandem is a wonderful organization that is committed to supporting families and caregivers to take on the very important role of being their children’s first teachers. They offer high quality training and other supportive services that benefit the entire community, including school-to-home book-sharing opportunities, workshops for families and educators on early learning, and leadership development training for parent leaders interested in promoting early literacy in their neighborhoods. Tandem’s staff members are experts in their fields of early language and literacy development, and they have a large group of school and community-based partners that rely on and respect the support they receive from Tandem. I am honored to work with and support Tandem!