Dialog to Learn connects low-income elementary school students with local professionals to improve their reading and writing skills.

We host a platform that acts as a controlled environment for these interactions, using individual's own email addresses. Email addresses are never shared. Students and professionals send emails to a user-specific address on the app, which masks professionals and students' emails and inserts an "alias email".

The app scrubs personal information from the emails and blocks inappropriate language, such as profanity. This allows us to give teachers full oversight and protect our students and volunteers. At the end of each cycle, classes have the opportunity to host a career day and invite volunteers. This is when 'Digital Buddies' can meet in person.


Use your professional communication skills to help a low-income elementary school student improve their reading and writing through an email dialogue.

Sign up.

Are you a professional in the San Francisco Bay Area? Sign up to volunteer with Dialog to Learn! It only takes a few minutes to register. Cycles are 8-10 weeks, during which volunteers spend an average of 10-20 minutes a week to write 1 or 2 emails.

Get matched up.

We match you to a fourth or fifth-grade student in a local low-income elementary school.

Get emails and answer them.

Topics are student lead. We encourage volunteers to be engaged and ask questions! In order to keep the program on track and allow the teachers to schedule time in class for students to respond, we ask that you respond within 48 hours.


Dialog to Learn offers schools a way to tap into dialogue journaling, a tested learner-centered method for improving students’ reading, writing, and comprehension skills while engaging students in a fun, authentic learning experience. The program is designed to be compatible with existing classroom curriculum, easy to use, and minimal work for teachers.

Why kids need it

Little access to professional English

For many children in lower income neighborhoods and schools, English is often not spoken at home or on the playground. Due to residential patterns, students of low socioeconomic status and students who are not proficient in English are often concentrated in specific public schools. These public schools have huge demands placed upon them to close wide achievement gaps with limited resources. Given that these schools are under-resourced and are likely to remain so, we must develop instructional opportunities that do not involve significant funds but still provide academic support for these students in ways that their parents, teachers, and schools cannot.

Why teachers need it

They are outnumbered

Teachers are some of the most amazing people on this planet. Many of them know and love dialog journaling, but they cannot implement it with over 30 students. While regular interactive writing between a teacher and students using “dialog journals” has shown great promise, this practice is not feasible for teachers to sustain by themselves. By using email, the classroom doors are virtually opened for dialog journal interchanges. Dialog to Learn makes method possible, and effective.

Why professionals need it

It's hard to find the time to give back

Public schools and the private sector are disconnected, especially in low-income areas. We know volunteering is important to many of us. Unfortunately, schedules often don't allow for the level of commitment it takes to regularly visit a school or attend a program every other Saturday. However, with just one or two extra emails a week, you can impact a student in your community. With Dialog to Learn, volunteers become a virtual member of the public school community!