2011-08-18 / Life Currents

Nearly 800 Minnesota Reading Corps members take service pledge

Tutors kick off new school year with Gov. Dayton and AmeriCorps Director


Nearly 800 Minnesota Reading Corps literacy tutors (including Michelle Jeziorski, Staples tutor, pictured sixth from right) took the stage with Governor Mark Dayton Aug. 10, taking their AmeriCorps pledge of service at St. Paul’s RiverCentre. The event kicked off a three-day training session to prepare the members for their year of service in schools and preschools across the state. Dignitaries pictured at the podium, from left, are Governor Dayton; Laysha Ward, president of Target Foundation and Target Corporation Community Relations; and John Gomperts, AmeriCorps president. (Submitted photo) Nearly 800 Minnesota Reading Corps literacy tutors (including Michelle Jeziorski, Staples tutor, pictured sixth from right) took the stage with Governor Mark Dayton Aug. 10, taking their AmeriCorps pledge of service at St. Paul’s RiverCentre. The event kicked off a three-day training session to prepare the members for their year of service in schools and preschools across the state. Dignitaries pictured at the podium, from left, are Governor Dayton; Laysha Ward, president of Target Foundation and Target Corporation Community Relations; and John Gomperts, AmeriCorps president. (Submitted photo) Nearly one in four Minnesota third graders is failing to reach basic levels of literacy. To close this achievement gap and help every Minnesota child become a successful reader by the end of third grade, nearly 800 Minnesota Reading Corps literacy tutors recently participated in the Minnesota Reading Corps Summer Institute.

The intensive three-day training session at the St. Paul RiverCentre prepared AmeriCorps members to work with students across the state during the 2011 – 2012 school year. At the session kick-off, Governor Mark Dayton led all Minnesota Reading Corps tutors in simultaneously taking the AmeriCorps pledge as they committed to a year of national service.

In addition to Governor Dayton, speakers included AmeriCorps director John Gomperts (from the Corporation for National and Community Service); state Senator Gen Olson; Laysha Ward, president, Target Foundation and Target Corporation Community Relations; and Sarah Caruso, president and CEO, Greater Twin Cities United Way.

Minnesota Reading Corps, the largest state AmeriCorps program in the country, is a strategic initiative of ServeMinnesota and has received national recognition for its proven success in helping close the achievement gap so every Minnesota child can become a successful reader by the end of third grade.

During the Summer Institute, Minnesota Reading Corps tutors were trained in research-based instruction to help students age three through third grade catch up to grade level. If children don’t read proficiently by third grade, they are unlikely to achieve future reading success without targeted interventions.

“ Minnesota Reading Corps has proven itself to be a cost-effective solution to the critical issue of early literacy,” says Kathy Saltzman, executive director of the Minnesota Reading Corps. “Nearly 80 percent of our participants make more than a year’s worth of progress.”

Legislation passed during the recent Special Session reaffirmed the state’s goal to ensure every child is reading at or above grade level no later than the end of grade three. This legislation invested an additional $5.45 million in the Minnesota Reading Corps to increase the number of children served to 50,000 students over the next two school years.

Minnesota also continues to stand out as a national leader in service. According to the Volunteering in America report, released recently by the Corporation for National and Community Service, Minneapolis St. Paul ranked as the top volunteer large community and Minnesota was third nationwide.

Minnesota Reading

Corps

Minnesota Reading Corps, a strategic initiative of ServeMinnesota, is a statewide program to help every Minnesota child become a successful reader. The program matches trained AmeriCorps tutors and community volunteers with children from age three to grade three who are at risk for not reading at grade level.

AmeriCorps tutors either serve directly with children to provide individualized literacy instruction or recruit community volunteer tutors to work with children.

For more information, visit www.MinnesotaReadingCorps.org; or call (612) 206-3034 or toll-free (866) 859-2825.

ServeMinnesota is a catalyst for positive social change and community service, working with AmeriCorps members and community partners to meet critical needs in Minnesota.

As a nonprofit organization, it recruits and supports thousands of individuals to improve the lives of Minnesotans by offering life- changing service opportunities that focus on education, affordable housing, employment and the environment. Since its creation in 1994, ServeMinnesota has mobilized nearly 10,000 AmeriCorps members who train and support more than 300,000 volunteers. Through special programs like the Minnesota Reading Corps and the new Minnesota Math Corps, ServeMinnesota works in partnership with schools and teachers to close the achievement gap and help struggling students become successful learners. For more information, visit www.serveminnesota.org.

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