The United Way of West Tennessee and The Read Team unite to expand early literacy

JACKSON, TN (WNBJ) - During the pandemic, the need for additional learning opportunities has significantly increased due to the lack of in-person instruction.

To combat the deficit two groups in Jackson, have united to help students struggling with their reading skills.

The United Way of West Tennessee and The Read Team have joined forces to provide literacy assistance to second graders with the aim of helping them reach grade-level reading skills by third grade.

The Read Team launched in Jackson in 2014. They were formerly known as Arise2Read of Jackson-Madison county, which serves six JMCSS elementary schools. The Read Team mentors go into the schools weekly to help students improve their reading skills.

The partnership is breathing a renewed sense of urgency and support into the program.

“We actually began having conversations with the Read Team and their board about a year ago. We recognize particularly in the midst of a pandemic how many of our children were lagging behind because they did not have access to the resources that they needed. You know the pandemic caused schools early on to have to shut down, but then once they even opened back up it wasn’t school as normal. And so, we recognized that many of our children are going to need to catch up in school in some way and this reality was not a new issue. We’ve seen third-grade reading scores lagging behind in other states and certainly other countries. It is so important for here in west Tennessee for us to make sure our children are prepared,” said

Matthew Marshall, the President, and CEO at the United Way of West Tennessee.

The Read Team explaining how vital reading can be in a person’s life.

“We go in and work only with second graders because it’s a known statistic that if a child is not reading on grade-level by the end of the third grade there’s a two-thirds chance they could end up in poverty and well-fare or in prison. So, we hit the second graders, we target that age group so we go into those schools that the principals and we have all decided that yes this is a group of students that could benefit from the mentoring from the Read Team coach,” said Kelly Christoferson, the Read Team Coordinator.

The Read Team advancing the program even further with Words on Wheels. Words on Wheels is a bookmobile that will travel into neighborhoods to distribute free books.

Reading plays a huge role in achieving success throughout life and both these organizations want to ensure that no one lacks the resources they need to become a confident reader.

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