Reading Partners, a national nonprofit that collaborates with community volunteers and local public schools in the Twin Cities is working to equip students with foundational skills needed to read at grade level by fourth grade.
The early literacy organization has been providing volunteer-led, individualized reading support to students in under-resourced public elementary schools since 1999. April is National Volunteer Month.
“In our inaugural year of operations in the Twin Cities, Reading Partners has been inspired by the response to our call for volunteer tutors,” said Karen Casanova, executive director of Reading Partners Twin Cities. “Since the start of this school year, more than 350 community members have been volunteering at least once a week to work with a student who struggles with reading. This kind of commitment will absolutely begin to reduce the reading achievement gaps we see in Minneapolis and St. Paul.”
Volunteer efforts included congregants from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis served at schools throughout the community. First- and second-year education students in Tish Basford’s classes at Hamline University in St. Paul are tutoring students at Hamline Elementary School. In addition, retired teacher Sue Edwards was one of Reading Partners’ first volunteers at Maxfield Elementary School in St. Paul. After some recent health challenges, she decided she wanted to engage deeply in her community.
Today, only four in 10 fourth graders in Minneapolis and St. Paul are reading at grade level. More than 14,000 volunteer tutors in Minneapolis and St. Paul and across the United States are working with more than 10,000 students.
“I was one of the first people to work at Maxwell School Reading Partners,” said Edwards. “I am truly enjoying my life and I am so happy to have Reading Partners be a part of it.”