Our Story

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.

Our Mission


critical thinking, literacy, and activism.


youth capacity for self-empowerment.


and reclaiming our histories.


the skills for self-reflection and empathy.


our capacities for love and learning.

Our Impact and Outcomes

Learn about the power of our Reading with Relevance book selections. Janijah reflects on the impact that We Beat the Street made on her thoughts about her future; in her words, "It motivates me more to know if they can do it, I can do it, too."

Learn more about how Reading with Relevance impacts student achievement!

Our integrated approach to academic, social, and emotional learning has a 15-year track record of consistently inspiring positive student outcomes. Our strong evidence base tells us that not only do students love Reading with Relevance — they also accelerate their academic achievement, master critical ELA standards, and develop life-changing social and emotional skills. This approach really works!

Our Learning Standards

Every student deserves meaningful learning experiences that equip them with the skills to succeed in school, and in life. To prepare young people to thrive in college, career, and community, we explicitly build our resources around three sets of learning standards that work together to engage students' minds, hearts, identities, and passions.

Explore how Reading with Relevance builds literacy skills, social and emotional competencies, and social justice mindsets.

See RWR in Action

Our Founders

Lacy Asbill and Elana Metz are the Co-Founders of Moving Forward Institute, a nonprofit organization that focuses on students’ emotional well being as a critical strategy for improving their academic achievement. They founded the organization fifteen years ago in Oakland, CA; inspired by a vision of an organization run by young people, for young people, they believed in the power of a new generation to create fresh solutions to persistent social problems. Since its founding, the organization has served more than ten thousand youth in their community, and trained over five hundred young adults to serve as a new generation of educational leaders. 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 their Reading with Relevance curriculum.