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August 25, 2020

Reading Partners Twin Cities accelerates online tutoring plans to support urgent student literacy needs

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brooke Rivers

Executive Director, Reading Partners Twin Cities

(612) 281-1558  |

Nonprofit shares 2019-20 impact results and rolls out its new Reading Partners Connects program in time for the new school year 

(St. Paul, MN) August 25, 2020 

Innovating in rapid time to support students

As students across the country face the risk or reality of school campus closures and other learning disruptions while the COVID-19 pandemic continues shaking up society, Reading Partners has redoubled its innovation efforts to ensure that its programs can support students in any learning environment. In addition to offering its traditional in-person one-on-one literacy tutoring where it is safe to do so, Reading Partners is launching a new online tutoring program: Reading Partners Connects.

What is Reading Partners Connects?

Reading Partners Connects is an innovative online program that will allow Reading Partners to continue to partner with schools and provide volunteer-led one-on-one literacy instruction to students in situations where school campuses are closed to volunteers or where students are in blended learning environments. The program, which is a central part of a suite of innovations called Reading Partners Beyond, also expands Reading Partners’ ability to support even more students and families in the future.

Communities are stepping up to confront an extraordinary challenge

As an indication that people across the country are proactively looking for ways to help students amid the public health crisis, over 2,000 people signed up to attend Reading Partners’ national virtual information session about their innovation programs that was held on August 20. During the event, chief knowledge officer, Dean Elson, highlighted that recent studies are showing that in a scenario where school closures and part-time schedules continue intermittently through the 2020–21 school year, and in-school instruction does not fully resume before January 2021, most students will lose an average of 7 months of learning due to COVID-19. And while the forecasted impact is over 12 months of learning loss for students experiencing economic disadvantages, Elson stressed that by not making assumptions about how students have spent their time during the last few months, and instead engaging students with a flexible mindset, patience, and a willingness to learn and adapt, tutors are well-positioned to help students make the literacy gains they need to keep progressing academically.

Reading Partners is a proven literacy program that can adapt to challenges like COVID-19 

Despite the seismic interruption to the normal school year last spring, Reading Partners responded quickly across the nation to deliver timely student literacy solutions. In the Twin Cities, Reading Partners delivered 12 or more tutoring sessions to 425 students through March with its traditional in-school program and then urgently shifted to a mix of innovative online and family engagement programs designed to help Reading Partners students (and others) preserve as much learning progress as possible. All of the results from 2019-20 can be reviewed in the impact & innovation report.

Support for students is needed now more than ever

A late-July business article in The New York Times observed that many nonprofits are facing funding shortages and other operational challenges at the very time their services are needed most by society. There are three key ways to help strengthen Reading Partners’ efforts to provide innovative literacy support to students in the Twin Cities and across the country:

• Make a donation at to allow Reading Partners to continue innovating throughout the unpredictable school year ahead.
• Returning volunteers will be contacted by regional team members who will gauge interest and schedule tutor orientation sessions.
• New volunteers can sign up online to get on the contact list for tutoring later this fall.

By tutoring a student one-on-one for about an hour a week, volunteers can make an impact that can quite literally alter the course of a child’s educational experience and life.

Learn more at

reading partners connects twin cities

A Reading Partners student works remotely with a volunteer tutor using the Reading Partners Connects program innovation (photo credit: Reading Partners)

reading partners connects twin cities

reading partners connects twin cities

Photos of students and volunteer tutors in reading centers engaging in Reading Partners’ traditional tutoring program (Photo Credit: Reading Partners)


About Reading Partners

For over 20 years, Reading Partners has empowered students to succeed in reading and in life by engaging community volunteers to provide one-on-one tutoring. Since its founding, the national nonprofit organization has mobilized nearly 70,000 community volunteers to provide proven, individualized literacy tutoring to more than 65,000 elementary school students in nearly 450 under-resourced schools across ten states and the District of Columbia. Visit to learn more about our program impact, or connect with us on FacebookLinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

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