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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            JANUARY 30, 2012

Today, Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas ISD Board Trustee Dr. Edwin Flores called on local volunteers to become engaged with Reading Partners, an early-intervention literacy program that will be piloted at two Dallas ISD elementary schools this spring.  The announcement was made at George W. Truett Elementary School in East Dallas, one of two schools where the program will be piloted. The other school selected is Roger Q. Mills Elementary School in Oak Cliff.

First introduced in California in 1999, Reading Partners provides twice-a-week, one-on-one volunteer tutoring to students at Title I schools who have fallen behind in reading. The program has achieved measurable results – evaluated using a standardized student assessment tool – for students served in California, Washington DC and New York City.

Reading Partners’ Dallas launch is supported by the Dallas Independent School District, the Boone Family Foundation, the Meadows Foundation, and the Dallas Citizens Council. Reading Partners will also work closely with Bank of America, Commit!, Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, the Volunteer Center of North Texas, and the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas to engage community volunteers through tutoring opportunities.

“Reading is a fundamental part of academic life and using our community volunteers to help those who may need a little extra assistance will be a valuable service,” said Mayor Rawlings. “I welcome Reading Partners to Dallas, and encourage everyone to engage themselves by volunteering in the program.”

“The commitment from these various organizations to assist with this initiative is a major step in the right direction,” said Dr. Edwin Flores, Second Vice President of the Board of Trustees. “We know that reading is the gateway to student success and community support is needed to prepare all of our students for college and their careers.

In expanding to Dallas, Reading Partners responds to an urgent need. In the Dallas Independent School District, one of the largest in the country, more than half of district fourth grade students are reading at below basic levels as measured by the Nation’s Report Card. What’s more, there is a 24-point difference in reading scores between higher- and lower-income students.

Michael Lombardo, the CEO of Reading Partners, said of this mid-year launch: “We’re excited about launching our program here alongside so many great partners. We have a program that has provided solid results in other communities and we look forward to seeing similar progress in Dallas.  Our goal is to expand the program to up to ten schools in Dallas next fall and we look forward to working with the community to meet that goal.”

To become involved, volunteers must commit to tutoring one student for 45 minutes a week, though volunteers are welcome to sign up for as many sessions as possible (some tutor for as many as 10 sessions a week). Nationwide, 4,000 Reading Partners’ volunteers will serve 3,000 students at 67 schools across California, Washington, D.C., New York City, Baltimore and Dallas this year.

To sign up to volunteer, please contact Reading Partners by going to http://www.readingpartners.org/volunteer or call the Reading Partners local office at (214) 980-8232.

About Reading Partners

Reading Partners is a literacy intervention nonprofit, serving 67 schools throughout California, Washington DC, New York City, Dallas, and Baltimore with 4,000 volunteer tutors. According to pre- and post-program assessments, the organization has an 88% success rate in narrowing achievement gaps for children who have fallen behind in reading skills; on average, Reading Partners students gain an entire grade level for every 26 hours of one-on-one tutoring they receive. For more information, visit www.readingpartners.org.

Media Contact:    Paula Blackmon, Chief of Staff to the Mayor, at 214-670-0656 or [email protected]