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September 21, 2016

Reading Partners announces strong student reading progress in the Twin Cities from volunteer-led tutoring program

For Immediate Release

Karen Casanova, Executive Director, Reading Partners Twin Cities

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

(St. Paul, MN) September 20, 2016 — Reading Partners is a national nonprofit organization that collaborates with local public schools and mobilizes community volunteers to provide students in under-resourced schools with the proven, individualized reading support they need to read at grade level by fourth grade.

Reading Partners transforms a dedicated space into a reading center, complete with a library and teaching tools managed by a full-time AmeriCorps member. Reading Partners collaborates with teachers and principals to identify students reading behind grade level, and provides them with personalized literacy instruction.

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 and include the following highlights and many more.

  • In the Twin Cities region:

    • Over 250 students at six partner schools were matched with more than 350 community volunteers who delivered a total of 8,275 tutoring sessions over the course of the year.

    • Among Reading Partners’ youngest students, 90% mastered key foundational reading skills needed to read at grade level.

    • Based on survey responses, 100% of principals report improved school-wide reading progress, 94% of teachers report Reading Partners is valuable to their school and 93% of volunteers were satisfied with their experience.

    • Learn more about Reading Partners’ impact in the Twin Cities region here.

    • Learn about Reading Partners’ national impact here.

“Our 2015-16 program launch in Minneapolis and St. Paul demonstrates the student results that can be achieved through Reading Partners’ high-quality, individualized literacy intervention in just one year,” said Karen Casanova, Executive Director in the Twin Cities. “For our students, we are excited about their achievements, and to our tutors, we extend our sincere thanks for the time they invested to ensure their reading partners experienced success when in the past they might have been frustrated.”

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 fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school or not earn a high school diploma.

This summer’s release of 2016 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) by the Department of Education saw no overall improvement in reading for the third year in a row, with 60% of students meeting standards across the state. For students in the urban core of the Twin Cities where Reading Partners focuses its efforts, these results dip to closer to 40% of students meeting standards. And of those, only 25% of students living in poverty are meeting standards. These figures verify the lack of movement on closing the achievement gap for students of color in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

In the 2016-17 school year, Reading Partners Twin Cities aims to match 670 community volunteers with 450 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.

“Every Wednesday this past school year, I looked forward to my tutoring time with my student, Savannah,” said Keith Hardy, former St. Paul school board member and Reading Partners board member. “The structured tutoring path that I followed made it much simpler to gauge her reading and comprehension progress. Plus, the selection of books and activities made it a true joy to tutor. Finally, the onsite Reading Partners site coordinator helped me know what I did well and how I could get better as a tutor. Being a volunteer tutor with Reading Partners helps me reach my personal goal of helping every child read at or above grade level.”

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 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, or connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, to learn more.

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