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September 14, 2016

Nonprofit calls for more community tutors in 2016-17 to expand impact

Originally published by Moultrie News.

Reading Partners is a national nonprofit organization that collaborates with local high-poverty elementary schools and mobilizes community volunteers to provide K-5 students with the proven, individualized reading support they need to read at grade level by fourth grade.

In August of 2016 Reading Partners Charleston became Reading Partners South Carolina to better reflect the evolution of its geographic service area and the attention its program is receiving at the National level. Reading Partners South Carolina was granted generous funds from the South Carolina Legislature in coordination with the Department of Education to serve as a reading pilot for struggling readers in rural and urban, under-resourced schools. “We are excited about our transition to Reading Partners South Carolina as it represents the expansion into three counties across the state, as well as support and flexibility to expand our program service area going forward. Rural education is an issue in this state, in almost every county, and we are excited to partner with the folks in Columbia to pilot our program in more rural areas, while continuing to build upon our strong urban base,” says Kecia Greenho, Executive Director of South Carolina.

In addition, the South Carolina AmeriCorps Commission granted Reading Partners with 35 AmeriCorps members to help deepen and expand the program’s impact in Charleston, Berkeley, and Florence counties. The more than $800,000 in funds provided by the State Legislature and AmeriCorps Commission will allow Reading Partners to serve more than 750 struggling readers at 17 schools in the 2016-17 school year with additional support from the school districts, business communities and private donors in the areas in which Reading Partners South Carolina works.

More Volunteers Needed in the 2016-17 School Year

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, in 2015, only 21 percent of low-income students nationwide, and 36 percent of students overall, are reading proficiently by the fourth grade. This means that nearly nine million low-income elementary school students are still learning to read when they should instead be reading to learn. Without developing the reading skills needed to read on grade level, kids won’t have an equitable chance to succeed in school or in life. In fact, students who can’t read by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school or not earn a high school diploma.

80 percent of third grade students living in poverty in South Carolina do not read proficiently. Reading Partners engages the community in helping to solve this problem.

In the 2016-17 school year, Reading Partners South Carolina aims to match over 800 community volunteers with 750 struggling readers. By tutoring a student one-on-one for as little as an hour a week, volunteers can make an impact that can quite literally alter the course of a child’s educational experience and life. “When you partner your gifts of time and talents with the teachable spirit of a child who needs a reading boost, you’ve got the winning combination for growth, wonder, and personal satisfaction” says long-time volunteer, and Tutor Advisory Council member for Reading Partners South Carolina, Lynne Fitzpatrick. Lynne’s volunteerism over the past two years has contributed to the success of the Reading Partners program, which produces incredible student results year after year.

2015-16 Results

Reading Partners prides itself on running a program that is both highly effective and transparent. In that spirit, the nonprofit organization issues annual impact reports spotlighting national-level performance as well as performance results in all 14 of its regions across the country. The impact reports for the 2015-16 school year have recently been posted on readingpartners.org and include the following highlights and many more.

In the South Carolina region:

o 728 students at 16 partner schools were matched with nearly 850 community volunteers who delivered more than 21,500 tutoring sessions over the course of the year.

o Among Reading Partners’ youngest students, 93% mastered key foundational reading skills needed to read at grade level.

o Based on survey responses, 94% of principals report improved school-wide reading progress, 99% of teachers report Reading Partners is valuable to their school and 96% of volunteers were satisfied with their experience.

o Learn more about Reading Partners’ impact in South Carolina here.

o Learn about Reading Partners’ national impact here.

The impressive student results highlighted above and in the corresponding impact reports would not be possible without the generous participation of thousands of community volunteers. To become a volunteer with Reading Partners, please visit readingpartners.org/volunteer today.

About Reading Partners

Reading Partners empowers students to succeed in reading and in life by engaging community volunteers to provide one-on-one tutoring. The national nonprofit organization will provide proven, individualized literacy tutoring to more than 11,000 elementary school students in under-resourced schools across ten states and the District of Columbia in the 2016-17 school year. Visit readingpartners.org.

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