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September 14, 2012

Charleston Wins Competitive Third Grade Reads Grant

Charleston Wins Competitive Third Grade Reads Grant From Cities of Service and Service Nation

Mayor Riley to lead volunteer-powered literacy initiative in coordination with school district, Charleston Book Buddies and National Reading Partners, funded by Target

Charleston, SC–The City of Charleston in partnership with the Charleston County School District, Book Buddies and Reading Partners was awarded a $40,000 “Third Grade Reads” grant from Cities of Service and ServiceNation, funded by Target Corporation. The Cities of Service Third Grade Reads initiative is intended to support high-impact strategies in which the Mayor’s Office leverages the power of volunteers to help children attain reading proficiency by the beginning of fourth grade.

Through a partnership between the City of Charleston, Charleston County School District, Book Buddies and Reading Partners, volunteers tutor the highest need K-3 students in reading. The grant will support the literacy curriculum, travel for staff to participate in professional development around volunteer recruitment, management and coaching, investment in a volunteer database to track the volunteers and their outcomes and a standardized assessment tool to capture student outcomes.

Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. said, “Through the Third Grade Reads Initiative, the Charleston community can better reach our goal of having every child reading on grade level.”

“We are very excited about the partnership this year with the Mayor’s Office and with Reading Partners,” said Kecia Greenho, Executive Director of Charleston Book Buddies. “Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley has made literacy a priority in Charleston County schools, and we are working together to close the achievement gap. We offer a strategic way for volunteers to get involved in solving this literacy crisis. With the engagement of the Charleston community, and the partnerships we are creating, we will give students the tools they need to be able to graduate from high school on time.”

Charleston was one of eight recipient cities of the Cities of Service, Third Grade Reads grant. The other seven recipients are: Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Chula Vista, CA; Cincinnati, OH; Kansas City, MO; Orlando, FL; and Vicksburg, MS. A summary of the cities’ proposals can be found here.

Grants awarded through this initiative are funded by Target. Target is on track to give $1 billion for education by the end of 2015, to help kids learn, schools teach, and parents and caring adults engage.

The Third Grade Reads Blueprint is one of ten “Service as a Strategy” blueprints. These are designed by the Cities of Service coalition to be ready-to-use, high-impact strategies available for mayors and their cities to implement. Each customizable blueprint outlines how the Mayor’s Office can engage citizen volunteers to address a specific city need in one of six priority areas: education and youth, health, neighborhood revitalization, preparedness and safety, sustainability, and veterans.  The blueprints were created with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

To learn more about Cities of Service, Third Grade Reads, or the “Service as a Strategy” blueprints, please visit


About Cities of Service

Founded in September 2009 in New York City by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other mayors from across the nation, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of mayors committed to addressing critical city needs through impact volunteering. American cities face serious challenges and many mayors want to take advantage of every resource available to them  – including the time and energy of public-spirited residents – to address those challenges. But in cities across America today, citizen service is often an underutilized or inefficiently utilized strategy by municipal governments. By leveraging citizen service strategies, Cities of Service helps mayors address local needs and make government more effective.


About ServiceNation
ServiceNation is a campaign to increase national service opportunities and elevate service as a core ideal and problem solving strategy in America.  The campaign is focused on two main initiatives: building a permanent grassroots constituency to advance service legislation and challenging the American public to view returning military veterans as civic assets and leaders who will reinvigorate our communities. ServiceNation envisions a day when a commonly asked question in this country is ‘Where do you serve?’ and when all Americans have the opportunity to serve in order to tackle pressing social challenges and strengthen our democracy.  For more information, visit


About Reading Partners and Charleston Book Buddies

Charleston Book Buddies and Reading Partners have formed a new partnership to support 8 elementary schools across Charleston County. Together, Charleston Book Buddies and Reading Partners are bringing community volunteers in to schools to work one-on-one with students reading below grade level.

Reading Partners is a national nonprofit that provides volunteer-led, one-on-one literacy tutoring to K-5 students at low-income elementary schools. Reading Partners has an 89% success rate improving students’ reading skills. At each school site, Reading Partners transforms a dedicated space into a reading center and recruits a corps of 40-100 community volunteers directly with students. Volunteers are trained and supported by Site Coordinators to use a highly structured and research-validated curriculum to work one-on-one with students who have fallen behind in reading. To learn more visit

 Media Contact: Joe Ventura / (510) 830-3035 /

Book Buddies, a program of Charleston Volunteers for Literacy (CVL) was founded in 2008.  CVL in 2011-12 served 96 second graders at six Title One schools in Charleston County. The program is an evidence-based in school program that provides one on one tutoring for children reading at least one grade level below.  The school system identifies students for initial screening based on MAP scores in the 15-40% in Reading. To learn more visit

FOR MORE INFO: Barbara W. Vaughn, Director

Media Relations/Public Information

Phone: (843) 724-3746 Fax: (843) 724-3734


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