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July 11, 2013

Reading Partners Expanding to Tulsa to Serve Students in Oklahoma's Highest-Need Schools

National Literacy Nonprofit Joins Local Effort to Expand
Educational Opportunity in Oklahoma

Oakland, CA
July 11, 2013—National education nonprofit Reading Partners today announced that it will expand to Tulsa, Oklahoma, with plans to partner with nine elementary schools in the Tulsa Public Schools district.  In its first year, the program is expected to serve 320 students at Anderson, Cooper, Eugene Field, Jackson, Kendall-Whittier, Mark Twain, McClure, Mitchell and Sequoyah elementary schools. Funding from the George Kaiser Family Foundation and others will support the expansion to Reading Partners’ ninth region.

Reading Partners is a highly-effective literacy program, offering students one-on-one tutoring with a volunteer twice a week. In the past decade, Reading Partners has provided one-on-one literacy tutoring to over 11,000 students in low-income schools. In the 2012-13 school year, 6,000 community volunteers across six states and the District of Columbia delivered over 200,000 hours of one-on-one tutoring sessions with more than 5,500 students reading behind grade level.

“Children who master reading by the end of third grade are more likely to attend and complete college, earn a higher salary, and become involved in civic activities like voting and volunteerism,” said Reading Partners CEO Michael Lombardo. “The issue of early childhood literacy goes deeper than a student’s ability to decode and comprehend texts.”

“Success in life is tied in very closely with being a successful reader,” said Dr. Keith Ballard, Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools.  “TPS is committed to improving reading skills for these young people so they can be high-achieving and be on a successful trajectory for college or career.  We are so pleased to have the support of Reading Partners in nine of our schools.  Together, I know we will make a tremendous difference in these young lives.”

Reading Partners selected Tulsa as an expansion site based on interest from school district leaders in partnering with the organization to provide its high-quality literacy intervention program to address the region’s significant achievement gap. Today, only 1 in 4 Oklahoma fourth graders is reading at a proficient level and 36% lack even basic literacy skills.

Another contributing factor is Oklahoma’s Reading Sufficiency Act, which requires schools to retain students who do not pass a reading test and do not meet other criteria for exemptions by the end of the third grade. Oklahoma fails to provide any funding for schools to identify students struggling with reading and to provide them with supports to get them back on track.

Working in schools in low-income communities, Reading Partners transforms a dedicated space into a Reading Center, complete with a library and teaching tools managed by a full-time staff member. Reading Partners collaborates with teachers and principals to identify students reading six months to two and a half years behind grade level, and provide them personalized literacy instruction.

Reading Partners sees demonstrable results in the reading skills of students in its program. In the 2011-12 school year, 89 percent of students accelerated their progress in reading. Before enrollment last year, Reading Partners students gained an average of only 0.6 months of reading skills for every month in the classroom. By the end of the year with Reading Partners, our students gained an average of 1.6 months of reading skills per month, more than doubling their rate of learning and catching up to their on-grade peers.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer tutor with Reading Partners Tulsa, please contact Outreach Manager Cassandra Love at

About Reading Partners

Reading Partners is a national nonprofit organization that provides volunteer-led, one-on-one literacy tutoring to more than 5,500 elementary school students in 103 schools in low-income communities across six states and the District of Columbia. Reading Partners delivers a highly effective, research-validated program that has helped thousands of children master the fundamental reading skills they need to succeed in school and beyond. Visit, or connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, to learn more about how Reading Partners is helping improve student literacy, and how you can help children in your community improve their reading skills and succeed in school.

About George Kaiser Family Foundation

George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) is a charitable organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through investments in early childhood education, community health, social services and civic enhancement. GKFF works primarily on initiatives developed in collaboration with Tulsa-based direct service organizations. Learn more at


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