Being a good neighbor means more than ever before

Reading Power, Inc.

We provide struggling readers individualized tutoring to accelerate literacy and a love of reading.

Currently only 13 percent of students in the districts we serve read at grade level and COVID-19 school closures will further erode literacy as students are expected to lose nearly a year of literacy gains. These schools lack the resources to provide the one-to-one interventions their lowest achieving students require to address this learning slide. Reading Power is responding to this by modifying our in-school research-based individualized tutoring model to reach students remotely with tutoring by our trained volunteer tutors and by developing on-line and printed resources to enhance school materials. We are working with community partners to add programs both in-school and outside of school to address the COVID-19 related learning loss. Without help, studies show two thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare and are nearly four times less likely to graduate high school than their peers with basic reading skills.

Funds from State Farm would support the expansion of our program to include before and after school tutoring, either remotely, in-school or at community centers to address the learning slide associated with 2020 school closures. Without additional instruction, students will never make up this loss. Funds would support staff salaries, program development, books and supplies. Specifically, we need to enhance the technology available to tutors and students as remote programming will almost certainly be a component of future instruction. The community we serve is 89 percent low income and about 20 percent lack internet access. We began a summer program with Boys & Girls Club to continue to work with students. We are confident our staff has the expertise to mitigate the learning deficit due to COVID-19: since 2003 data have consistently shown that kindergarten and first grade students make four times the gains and second grade two times the gains when compared to their non-tutored peers.

We cannot overestimate the impact school closings and remote learning have had on our students. The virus is disrupting many of the supports that can help vulnerable kids stay in school: academic engagement and achievement, strong relationships with caring adults, and stable home environments. In normal circumstances, studies show students who miss more than ten days of school are 36 percent more likely to drop out. Without additional reading support, these students are vulnerable to never achieving grade-level literacy. Reading Power has a strong record as a partner with the schools we serve, and they are looking to us to help address the literacy loss of this crisis. As one principal we work with notes, “Reading Power became a part of our culture in a super great way…Kids are looked after, loved, and given the academics they need…With a strong foundation of social emotional wellness, Reading Power has only enhanced that for us. It’s made all the things teachers do just better!”