Reading is a basic building block that gives children the tools they need to engage in a lifetime of learning. From kindergarten through 3rd grade, children are learning to read. From 4th grade on, they are reading to learn. One in three American 4th graders score “below basic” in national assessments. This means that they can barely read at all. A person who is not at least a moderately skilled reader by 3rd grade is typically less likely to catch up and more likely to NOT graduate from high school.
To help fight these literacy challenges head on, United Way of the Lowcountry created its Early Grade Reading Program, “Read Indeed!,” in 2012. Read Indeed! is a unique collaboration between United Way of the Lowcountry and the Beaufort County and Jasper County School Districts. Read Indeed! works to increase reading achievement in our community so that children in Beaufort and Jasper Counties are proficient in reading by the time they finish 3rd grade. Through this program, students receive, one on one, 30 minute tutoring sessions, three times a week. By focusing on school readiness in Pre-K and grades K-3, the program can make a lasting difference in the lives of children in our community by giving them tools to achieve their dream.
Over the last five years, the program has had an immense impact on children tutored throughout Beaufort and Jasper Counties. During the 2016 school year, 800 students participated in the program thanks to support from more than 300 volunteer reading tutors and AmeriCorps members. The results continue to add up. 94% of students in Jasper County and 95% of students in Beaufort County who participated in the program increased their reading scores.
Based on the success of the Read Indeed! program, the United Way of the Lowcountry is continually recruiting people with passion and a desire to help children. They are looking for volunteers to tutor students in Pre-k through 3rd grade at 12 sites throughout both counties. The trained tutors are matched with students who are identified by school literacy specialists as needing additional help with reading. These are the students who do not receive other intervention and would otherwise fall through the cracks.
In addition to working with students during the school year, Read Indeed volunteers also assisted the Beaufort County School District this summer with its Extended Year Summer Reading Program. This program serves K-4th grade elementary school students. The purpose of the Extended Year Summer Reading Program is to deter summer learning loss, improve student literacy and reading skills, and develop mastery of grade level standards. During this summer, 1410 students participated in the program. Of those students, 69% of students showed growth from the end of the school year to the end of the program and 24% maintained their reading level.
Volunteering for the Read Indeed! program is a rewarding opportunity that requires no experience but will make a lifetime of difference for a child in our community. Training for this program will be provided to help you get started and be successful. One to two hours of your time per week throughout the school year will make a tremendous impact. Working with the school teachers, the Read Indeed! volunteers help elementary students master the art of reading to help them read on grade level by the time they reach the 4th grade.
Those interested in becoming a Read Indeed! volunteer tutor, please call Bethany Marcinkowski, Vice President of Education Impact at United Way of the Lowcountry at 843-837-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.