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April 12, 2016

Reading Partners Twin Cities shares inspiring volunteerism stories during National Volunteer Week

For Immediate Release

Karen Casanova, Executive Director, Reading Partners Twin Cities


(St. Paul, MN) April 12, 2016 — Reading Partners is a national nonprofit that collaborates with community volunteers and local public schools in the Twin Cities to equip students with the foundational skills they need to be able to read at grade level by fourth grade. The proven early literacy organization has been providing volunteer-led, individualized reading support to students in under-resourced public elementary schools since 1999.

April is National Volunteer Month (and April 10-16 is National Volunteer Week), so Reading Partners is celebrating the tremendous dedication and impact of its thousands of volunteer tutors by sharing a sampling of the uplifting stories playing out every day in Reading Partners reading centers in the Twin Cities and across its 14 regions.

“In our inaugural year of operations in the Twin Cities, Reading Partners has been inspired by the response to our call for volunteer tutors,” said Karen Casanova, Executive Director of Reading Partners Twin Cities. “Since the start of this school year, more than 350 community members have been volunteering at least once a week to work with a student who struggles with reading. This kind of commitment will absolutely begin to reduce the reading achievement gaps we see in Minneapolis and St. Paul. During National Volunteer Week and every week, we are grateful for our volunteers!”

Here are a few examples of the countless inspiring stories of high-impact volunteerism taking place locally in Reading Partners reading centers:

  1. Congregants from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis MN have responded to Reading Partners call for tutors with more than 18 volunteers serving at schools throughout our community. The church’s volunteer coordinator Trish Van Pilsum recruited tirelessly once she learned about Reading Partners, and tutors two students each week herself.

  2. First- and second-year Education students in Tish Basford’s classes at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN are tutoring students at Hamline Elementary School, learning about early literacy instruction at the same time.

  3. Retired teacher Sue Edwards was one of Reading Partners’ first volunteers at Maxfield Elementary School in St. Paul, MN. After some recent health challenges, she decided she wanted to engage deeply in her community. Sue serves the school in other ways, creating billboards for teachers and bringing homemade baked goods for her Reading Partners Site Coordinator, Matt.

Today, only four in 10 fourth graders in Minneapolis and Saint Paul are reading at grade level. Reading is the foundation for all future learning. 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. With the dedication of more than 14,000 volunteer tutors in Minneapolis and St. Paul and across the US, Reading Partners’ volunteers are helping more than 10,000 students make the all-important shift from learning to read to reading to learn.

“I was one of the first people to work at Maxwell School Reading Partners,” said Sue Edwards, a local volunteer tutor. “I am truly enjoying my life and I am so happy to have Reading Partners be a part of it!”

To learn more, please visit

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 10,000 elementary school students in under-resourced schools across ten states and the District of Columbia in 2016.  Visit, or connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, to learn more.

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