Youth Literacy Program: Summer Reading Initiative Update


This is an exciting time for the Youth Literacy Program!  Our collaboration with YTL (Youth Transformed for Life) was initiated through conversations over the past six or seven months about how to reach more grade school students of color. Making those connections through the regular school year had its own set of challenges.  Knowing that the impact of COVID left students with even larger gaps in reading levels, the Literacy Together team decided to find a way to step up. 

Janell Lassiter and Parris Finley, co-directors of YTL, invited Literacy Together to provide a reading/literacy component to all of the campers in their summer program. Cindy Threlkeld, executive director at Literacy Together saw this opportunity as a win-win collaboration. We would make this a paid internship and prioritize the recruitment of young adults of color as tutors. LuAnn Arena went to work raising funds and some great partners stepped up:  WNC Bridge FoundationTD Charitable FoundationDollar General; and WNC Returned Peace Corps VolunteersMackenzie Bennett was contracted to set the recruitment process in motion, and Rebecca Massey from Literacy Together joined the team to help plan the tutor training. 

VOILA!! We hired fourteen of the most amazing young people in our city. They have been trained in how to be an effective tutor using multi-sensory techniques, and eagerly started working directly with campers three mornings a week. The students are excited to get this one-on-one time and have bonded quickly with the interns.  Stay tuned for more updates on how this goes over the next eight weeks!

Here’s a picture of our team of interns! Read more about the Summer Reading Initiative.

Written by Tonya Johnson, director of the Youth Literacy Program.


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