Reading Now

?Our job is to produce world-class third graders.?  This was the transforming goal adopted nearly a decade ago by one state?s public schools in order to focus the efforts of educators, families, and community partners in the right place.  And so it should be, because research indicates that three-quarters of all students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school.  The consequences of this for higher education and lifelong earning potential are severe ? the difference between the earning potential of high school dropouts and college graduates is at least $26,000 annually and can mark the difference between poverty and middle class.  Recently, we have all become painfully aware that nearly one in four Erie residents is living in poverty, the highest rate of any major Pennsylvania city.  Sadly, only one in five Erie residents has a college degree.  Connecting the dots, we can conclude that early success in reading makes a huge difference in terms of lifetime success.
With this vision as its beacon, Erie-based Reading NOW has been opening up the world of literacy and a love of learning to young people and their families since 2008 and has recently launched a nonprofit arm, the Reading NOW Foundation, to increase outreach and partnerships within inner-city Erie.  The mission of Reading NOW is to collaborate with the community, schools and parents to provide READING and MATH instructional support to Kindergarten through 12th grade students, which will create strong, strategic readers who are life-long literate learners and who pursue learning with improved confidence and self-esteem.
This focus on partnerships in the community is at the heart of the Reading NOW Foundation?s first grant-funded collaboration.  Starting in March, 2010, Reading NOW will host 25 third and fourth grade students from Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary School in Erie who have a passion for learning but are struggling with their reading skills.  Reading NOW will create instructional units based on the hands-on exhibits at Erie?s expERIEnce Children?s Museum and use the units with the students at the museum so that these emerging readers can immediately link their understanding of words with the objects, activities, and experiences available to them at the museum.  Chad Bentley of Reading NOW feels that, ?This multi-sensory learning experience will not only light their bulbs as readers, it will help create a stream of new museum-goers with a passion for learning.?
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