ForWords 5 Cornerstone Programs in the Community and Public Schools: Read about each and see a sample of student work.

green circle, after school programs

After School Programs

At school site classrooms [M-Th], ForWords students receive academic support, read from the selected fiction or non-fiction piece, write in their journals, discuss literature, create a piece of writing, work on a project.

Legacy Unmasked


Our students interviewed grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and parents about food, celebrations, games, treasured objects and traditions of their home country and then created poems and masks that illuminate their heritage.

legacy unmasked book cover
Ode to My Parents

... Sweet yellow corn
The fields where my parents worked day and night
till the bright burning sunsets ...

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In-School Programs

ForWords Youth Educators, interns and volunteers work daily in emerging English Learner classes. ForWords provides small group and 1-1 academic support for these hard working students as they navigate the rigors of learning a new language in a new country. In addition our educators serve as mentors for these students assisting them with learning about their community and available resources they may need for housing, food, and other daily issues.

Never Give Up


Everyone has a story to tell, to share their life experiences. Do you wish others would really ‘see’ you and know you through the telling of your story, your struggles, your hopes, your dreams? The emerging English Learners in the classrooms where ForWords works wrote memoirs of their experiences. In the words of one of their teachers, “They are human stories, like mine and yours. And each story, as stories go, has a conflict, and some sort of resolution, whether or not it goes the way we would like. There is no exception here. And they want to tell us, no matter what, never give up.”

forwords students
“When I Came to the United States”

I questioned, ‘Why do I study?’ This question I had in mind but when I was texting with my brother I changed my mind. He told me that you need to study because you need to find your dream. I thought that I needed to be different and every day I still try to do something new. I learned something with my brother. He taught something that I would never forget. He taught me to do something new everyday and to not try to be like any other person because each person is unique and each person has different ideas.

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Saturdays at ForWords

Imagine after a long week at school you are able to choose to relax with your friends or you can join a program that gets you out of bed and ready to think. Every Saturday morning ForWords students arrive ready to be inspired and continue to learn. They work on their reading, writing, speaking, critical thinking, arts and technology skills. These amazing students create spoken word events, tackle community issues, and create projects for publication and dissemination.

Coming Home


ForWords students study various genres of writing, learning to use language expressively, creatively, and purposefully. After working with Marin County Poet Laureate, Rebecca Foust, attending various poetry readings, spoken word events, and performing their own works at two local bookstores, ForWords students published Coming Home, a collection of odes. The illustrations are a series of lino prints that symbolically represent themes and ideas in the collection.

coming home book cover, balck and white lino print art of a woman
Where I'm From

... I am from a neighborhood
of different kinds of people
All with kindness
A place of perseverance ...

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Summer Bridge to High School

For five rigorous weeks rising ninth grade students participate in our Bridge to High School program and earn their first five units of high school credit. These students read together, discuss literature, write essays and poetry, create projects, visit cultural institutions, and attend panel discussions about high school life with our high school interns.  At the end of the program we have a ceremony where students present their work to their families, invited guests, and receive their certificate of completions.

butterfly student art work, hand drawn with pens and pencils

ForWords Poem & Artwork


... Just have a fair chance
Unity of all races
Seek help for those in need
Treated the same
Important to the world
Can have the freedom to express themselves
Everybody is equal ...

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ForWords High School Interns also earn credit toward graduation.

College Bound and Career Ready

Each year students visit local colleges to hear presentations and tour campuses. A meaningful feature of our high school program is the spring trip to California State Universities and a University of California campus. Imagine the building excitement on departure day when the tour bus arrives to take our students, staff and chaperones on a 3- day college excursion.

Students have the opportunity to experience college life by staying in the dorms, eating together in the dining hall, touring the school, meeting with professors, attending classes, talking with academic deans, and staying up late with their friends and staff.

Journal Entry


Visiting Fresno State University and UC Merced showed me what college really was. Before that college was just an idea, something my teachers talked about. I didn’t know what they meant, I couldn’t see it-but now it is real to me. I know that this is what I want, a college education so that I can learn and someday, help my family and my community.

forwords students
butterfly cut out book writing

Exploring Our World, Expanding Our Vision

Integral to every ForWords program is exploration of the world beyond our community.  Our students, many for the first time, attend an opera, see live local theater, visit community murals,  bookstores, and libraries, and go to museums.  Our students have stayed at Southern Oregon University while they attended the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

A Conversation with Dr. Francisco Jimenez

Author and Professor, Santa Clara University

During their years with ForWords, our middle school and high school students sequentially read the 4 volume memoir series of Dr. Francisco Jimenez’s life as a child laborer in the fields of California. This video features our inspiring visit to Santa Clara University to meet Dr. Jimenez in person.

Opera Parallele & ForWords

Dead Man Walking

In partnership with Opera Parallele, ForWords students studied the issues in the non-fiction book Dead Man Walking, attended writing and discussion workshops about the opera, and  went to the live performance at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.