We are a collective of progressive educators on a mission: sharing and scaling the program we’ve built for (and with!) our students over the last decade, to inspire relevant reading experiences, heartfelt conversations, and instructional breakthroughs in classrooms across the nation.

We wrote Reading with Relevance because we couldn’t find the tool we needed to effectively teach our students. Most of the young people in our classrooms not only came to us two to four years below their grade level, but also with very real social and emotional struggles that sometimes felt more important than school. We came to believe that meeting students’ social and emotional needs was the key to unlocking their academic potential.

Reading with Relevance leverages student interest in highly engaging social and emotional learning activities to develop crucial academic skills: reading fluency, comprehension, and critical thinking. We turn barriers to learning into the very tools that accelerate literacy.

Growing critical thinking, literacy, and activism.

Building youth capacity for self-empowerment.

Exploring and reclaiming our histories.

Developing the skills for self-reflection and empathy.

Engaging our capacities for love and learning.

We are community advocates, school supporters, and educational partners dedicated to addressing the academic and emotional needs of our youth.

We see social and emotional learning as a powerful tool in improving academic achievement, and blend together academic and emotional development activities in our work to support students.

We believe that when students take command of their social and academic learning experiences, they become engaged participants in their own success.

We use innovative academic practices to nurture young women and men to better understand, question, and remake the world around them.

Elana Metz and Lacy Asbill are the Founding Directors of Moving Forward Institute, a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the academic, emotional, and life outcomes of historically underserved students.  Since founding the organization in 2004, they have hired, trained and managed over 500 young adult educators, and have served more than 10,000 low-income, low-performing students in their community. The two are now deeply passionate about sharing the tools and best practices they’ve developed with educators across the nation, scaling the positive impacts of relevant reading experiences.

By the Numbers

Pull images from RWR Efficacy.pdf – File on Drive

Case Studies

Contra Costa County Office of Education Case Study (file on Drive)


File on Drive