February 28, 2022
Reading Partners Receives Unsolicited $20 Million from MacKenzie Scott
Funds will help Reading Partners support students in Baltimore and across the country at a time when learning disruptions have disproportionately impacted students experiencing economic challenges
(Baltimore, MD) February 28, 2022 – Reading Partners received a $20 million, unrestricted gift from MacKenzie Scott to support the national nonprofit’s evidence-based early literacy intervention programs. The largest single gift to Reading Partners comes as the organization is embarking on an initiative to raise more than $100 million over three years to expand literacy support services to tens of thousands of students across the country each year.
Reading Partners collaborates with under-resourced public schools in Baltimore and 11 other regions across the US, mobilizing community volunteers to provide students with the proven, individualized reading support they deserve in order to read at grade level by fourth grade. Working one-on-one with their tutors, students become proud, confident readers and have a greater opportunity to shine in school and beyond.
Currently partnering with 15 elementary schools throughout Baltimore, Reading Partners transforms a dedicated space within each partner school into a reading center, complete with a library and teaching tools, to deliver its traditional in-person tutoring program. When the pandemic started, Reading Partners rapidly innovated and launched an interactive online tutoring program—Reading Partners Connects—to ensure students could still receive their weekly one-on-one tutoring sessions during school closures. The new program model enables students and tutors to connect safely online and includes a curriculum aligned with Common Core standards.
The extraordinary challenges of the past few years have exacerbated pre-existing opportunity gaps, with pandemic-related learning disruptions disproportionately impacting Black and Latinx students and students experiencing economic disadvantages. Over the next few years, Reading Partners aims to leverage Reading Partners Connects and other programmatic innovations and community-centered partnerships to impact far more students than ever before and ensure equitable access to high-quality literacy education.
“MacKenzie Scott’s transformational gift illustrates the trust she has in Reading Partners to close literacy opportunity gaps and achieve greater educational equity for students, not just in Baltimore, but across the country,” says Jessica Kohnen, Reading Partners Baltimore interim executive director. “As we enter our second decade serving students in Baltimore, we know it will take everyone—volunteers, partners, supporters—working together to realize Reading Partners’ vision for a future where all students have the reading skills to reach their full potential.”
MacKenzie Scott’s gift to Reading Partners comes two months after the philanthropist and author donated $40 million to Morgan State University. The HBCU is a longtime community partner with Reading Partners Baltimore, with hundreds of MSU students providing volunteer tutoring to Baltimore City students throughout Reading Partners’ ten-year history in Baltimore.
Reading Partners believes reading is foundational and that the ability to read transforms lives and empowers children and communities to thrive. To learn more about Reading Partners Baltimore, become a volunteer tutor, or make a contribution, please visit readingpartners.org.
A Reading Partners student working remotely with a volunteer tutor using the Reading Partners Connects program (photo credit: Reading Partners)
About Reading Partners
For over 20 years, Reading Partners has helped empower students to succeed in school and beyond by engaging community volunteers to provide one-on-one literacy tutoring. Since its founding, the national nonprofit organization has mobilized over 70,000 community volunteers to provide proven, individualized literacy tutoring to nearly 70,000 elementary school students in over 450 under-resourced schools across ten states and the District of Columbia. Visit readingpartners.org to learn more about our program impact and our Reading Partners Connects online program innovation, or connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Reading Partners is a proud AmeriCorps service partner and has been endorsed by The New York Times.
Learn more about MacKenzie Scott’s perspective on giving.