ServeMinnesota received a $500,000 donation from Target, which will be used to expand Minnesota Reading Corps, its early literacy program, in two other communities – Washington, D.C. and Denver, Colo. This contribution is part of Target’s commitment to helping more U.S. children reach the critical academic milestone of reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Target is donating a total of $50 million to educators, schools and nonprofit organizations across the country to help ignite a love of learning among children.
Without reading skills as the foundation for education and economic achievement, children are at risk for lifelong negative consequences associated with illiteracy. Here in Minnesota, nearly half of our children are not ready for kindergarten and one in five third graders are not reading at grade level. Research shows that when students get off to a poor start in reading, they rarely catch up and become “in-school dropouts” as early as 4th grade.
Minnesota Reading Corps is a proven model that is an integrated component of Minnesota’s solution to childhood illiteracy. With nearly 800 AmeriCorps members currently serving as literacy tutors in more than 450 sites across the state, it is poised for national replication. Over the past eight years since its launch, Minnesota Reading Corps has consistently demonstrated positive results, combining the people power of AmeriCorps with the science of how children learn to read. More than 80 percent of participants make more than a year’s worth of progress, catching up to their peers in reading proficiency. In response to the educational crisis facing Minnesota schools and as a testament to the program’s success, Minnesota Reading Corps will expand dramatically for the 2012-2013 school year, currently seeking to fill more than 1,000 positions at 500 sites statewide.
“The success of Minnesota Reading Corps relies on strong public-private partnerships whose consistent support is accelerating positive results for struggling readers,” said Audrey Suker, CEO of ServeMinnesota. “Target has been a tremendous partner in our efforts to help every Minnesota child be successful and is eager to take the model to other communities.”
This grant will help Washington D.C. and Denver, Colorado launch their own Reading Corps programs with 20 members in each community. ServeMinnesota will provide training, implementation guidance and ongoing support to be sure the model is replicated with fidelity and will produce the same strong results that Minnesota has seen.
“To ensure more students are reading proficiently by the end of third grade, and in turn, graduating from high school on time, Target is dedicated to providing resources to help bring learning to life,” said Laysha Ward, President, Community Relations, Target. “We’re proud to partner with ServeMinnesota and Minnesota Reading Corps as part of our ongoing commitment to invest in innovative education programs that help keep children on the path to graduation.”
In addition to supporting education through grants such as the one received by ServeMinnesota, Target also funds several signature education programs aimed at helping students and teachers excel. For example, Take Charge of Education is an initiative that empowers guests to direct a portion of their Target REDcard purchases to an eligible K-12 school of their choice. Another example is Target School Library Makeovers. Through this initiative, Target leverages its design and construction expertise to completely transform school libraries across the country. These are just two examples of the many ways Target supports local communities and helps to reinforce the important role reading plays in shaping a child’s future. It is through these programs and many others that Target plans to reach a total of $1 billion in giving to education, with a focus on reading, by the end of 2015.