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Published: Saturday, 9/3/2011

250 local volunteers wanted for reading literacy program

Participants to work in schools, preschools

BY JULIE McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Read for Literacy is searching for 250 volunteers to work with children in preschools, Head Start sites, and elementary schools as it strives to reach at least 1,000 children by 2018.

The organization and three partners — the African-American Chamber of Commerce, Greater Toledo Urban League, and Toledo NAACP — are looking to recruit African-Americans for the Creating Young Readers program by making them more aware of Read for Literacy. National statistics show more than half of African-American fourth-graders read at the “below basic” level, making them six times more likely to drop out of high school than those reading proficiently by the third grade, said James Funk, executive director of Read for Literacy.

Launched two years ago, the Creating Young Readers program works both to increase preliteracy skills of kindergartners and to have students complete third-grade reading at grade level.

The program already has been able to increase rhyming, alliteration, and picture naming among participating children, and teachers have reported many are more interested in books and reading, Mr. Funk said.

“We feel pretty confident that we’re making a difference,” he said.

Some volunteers are needed immediately for Jefferson Center Head Start, Rossford Head Start, Fostoria Early Childhood Center Head Start, Dreams of Tomorrow preschool, and Toddlers’ School V.

More will be needed in January to start volunteering at Queen of Apostles, Robinson, Pickett, and Glenwood elementary schools.

Volunteers will receive a three-hour training session, and they will participate in the program for 90 minutes once a week.

To volunteer, call 419-242-7323.

The Creating Young Readers program has about 100 volunteers at six preschools operated by the YMCA/JCC of Greater Toledo, two Toledo Day Nursery sites, the East Toledo Family Center, the Catholic Club, Gesu Elementary School, and Monroe Street Neighborhood Center.

In time, the program will expand into more summer camp and lunch programs to prevent “summer slide,” when children not normally exposed to books at home forget skills, Mr. Funk said. Some of those programs are based in churches, and members could become volunteers, he said.

Read for Literacy also is working with the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority to help reach children not going to preschool, Mr. Funk said.



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