ARIZONA NEWS

Education nonprofit gets $1.5M to help Valley youth expand reading skills

Oct 31, 2023, 4:35 AM

Teacher reads book to younger students...

An education nonprofit organization recently received $1.5 million in funding to expand a Valley afterschool literacy program. (Facebook Photo/Read Better Be Better)

(Facebook Photo/Read Better Be Better)

PHOENIX — An education nonprofit organization recently received $1.5 million in funding to expand a Valley afterschool literacy program.

Read Better Be Better was awarded the grant by Helios Education Foundation, which supports postsecondary education for all students, especially low-income and underrepresented communities.

How will the grant support Read Better Be Better?

The grant will expand the literacy program to include kindergarten and first grade students across Maryvale in partnership with Alhambra, Cartwright, Pendergast and Peoria Unified School District. Previously, only second through fourth graders were able to be participate.

Through the program, younger students work with older students on core reading comprehension strategies, meeting twice a week for 10 weeks.

The approach allows for younger students to become better readers, while giving older students the chance to understand what it’d be like to be a teacher, according to a Read Better Be Better press release.

Local high school, middle school and Glendale Community College students will be participating as coaches.

“Over the years, we’ve seen the readers in our programs come back as youth leaders and become inspired to serve a teachers in their community,” Sophie Allen-Etchart, founder and CEO of Read Better Be Better, said in the release.

“This grant gives us an exciting opportunity to not only expand our programs to include earlier intervention in the K-1 grades, but also to help support middle and high school students interested in becoming educators and leaders in their communities.”

Why keep supporting Read Better Be Better?

Recent data shows approximately 41% of third grade students scored proficient or highly proficient on an English Language arts assessment. Scores were lower for Latinos (30%) and low-income background students (27%).

“We have a long way to go to reach our statewide goal to have 72% of third graders reading at grade level by 2030,” Paul Luna, president and CEO of Helios Education Foundation, said in the release.

“That is why we are partnering with Read Better Be Better and supporting their unique approach to help our youngest learners improve reading proficiency.”

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Education nonprofit gets $1.5M to help Valley youth expand reading skills