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December 10, 2012

Mayor Rawlings-Blake Celebrates Launch of Third Grade Reads Baltimore

Mayor Rawlings-Blake Celebrates Launch of Volunteer-Powered Literacy Initiative in Coordination With School District and Reading Partners

Competitive Third Grade Reads Grant from Citiies of Service Awarded to Baltimore, Funded by Target

BALTIMORE, MD – December 10, 2012 – Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined school leaders, education advocates, students, teachers, and volunteers on Tuesday, December 5 to celebrate the launch of Third Grade Reads, a new volunteer initiative to help children attain grade-level reading proficiency by the beginning of fourth grade. The volunteer-powered initiative will be administered in coordination with Reading Partners, a national education nonprofit operating 101 reading centers in elementary schools across the country.

“Up to third grade, our students are focused on learning to read so that they can learn and read more in middle and high school,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “Those who cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade are at a disadvantage. Third Grade Reads helps struggling students with one-on-one tutoring that will improve their reading skills and prepare them for a successful future.”

According to the Maryland School Assessment, 35% of Baltimore third grade students are not reading proficiently. Third Grade Reads targets 250 kids at four local elementary schools – Edgecombe Circle Elementary, Callaway Elementary, Friendship Academy at Cherry Hill, and Westport Academy – who are reading below proficiency and provides them one-on-one volunteer literacy tutoring for two 45-minute sessions each week. The initiative uses an evidence-based tutoring curriculum and measures progress and results.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the mayor’s office to get all of Baltimore involved in the most important job we have: educating our children,” said Lisa Lazarus, Regional Executive Director of Reading Partners Baltimore. “Reading Partners has a strong record of bringing community volunteers in to the schools and giving them the type of structure and support necessary to make a meaningful impact in a student’s life.”

Reading Partners Baltimore launched at Friendship Academy at Cherry Hill in the 2011-12 school year. As a result of a successful inaugural year, the organization expanded to serve four schools in 2012-13. Reading Partners provides volunteer-led, one-on-one literacy tutoring to K-5 students at low-income elementary schools. On average, 89% of students in the Reading Partners program improve their reading skills.

The Cities of Service Third Grade Reads initiative supports 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. Grants awarded through this initiative are funded by Target, with additional funding from community partners including: the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Abell Foundation, the Shattuck Family Foundation, the Aaron and Lillie Strauss Foundation, and the Wright Family Foundation.

 

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About Reading Partners
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 who work 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 www.readingpartners.org.

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.

Media Contact: Joe Ventura / (510) 830-3035 / joe.ventura@readingpartners.org

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