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AARP Foundation announces local grant award to help grow student reading success


Mon, May 9th 2016 03:30 pm

Read to Succeed Buffalo was selected to receive funds through the social innovation fund

Read to Succeed Buffalo recently announced the organization has received a $200,000 Reading Intervention Grant from AARP Foundation to implement a volunteer tutoring program with the intent of helping increase literacy skills among children in three targeted Buffalo Public Schools, serving 950 students K-third grade. The program will be implemented at West Hertel Academy, Waterfront Elementary and the Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence.

The grant will leverage an additional $200,000 through local matches provided by the John R. Oishei Foundation and Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, resulting in a total of $400,000 to RTSB for the 2016-17 school year. This funding was made possible by AARP Foundation in collaboration with the Corporation for National and Community Service Social Innovation Fund (SIF).

Based on the success of the program, AARP Foundation will commit an additional $200,000 annually through the 2019-20 school year. Local match dollars have already been committed for a total investment of up to $1.6 million over four years.

RTSB will partner with Experience Corps, an award-winning AARP Foundation literacy program that helps struggling students become better readers by matching them with highly trained and dedicated mature volunteers over the age of 50. The grant will be used to recruit, train, support and supervise 40 volunteers working in small groups in the three target schools.

"Reading is a cornerstone of success in life," said Bruce Boissonnault, Western New York representative on AARP New York's state executive council. "Improving children's early literacy can drive academic success, unlock opportunity and provide a pathway out of poverty. With these subgrants, we build on the success of Experience Corps' intergenerational model and help many more children to thrive."

"We are incredibly excited and humbled to receive this significant support from AARP Foundation and the Social Innovation Fund. This program and funding partnership allows us to expand an evidence-based tutoring practice that is already benefiting thousands of children throughout the country, to our neediest students here in Buffalo," said Anne Ryan, executive director of Read to Succeed Buffalo. "I am also so grateful to David Hills, Cecilie Owens and Dr. Tonya Chavers, the three fabulous principals who are welcoming this partnership into their schools this fall."

"We are truly grateful for the financial and programmatic support we are receiving not only from AARP Foundation, but also from the John R. Oishei Foundation and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo," said Jack Quinn, RTSB board chairman. "Without the tremendous support of our long-time funding sponsors, we simply would not have been able to bring this opportunity to the students in Buffalo Public Schools."

"The first plank in Superintendent Cash's new education bargain with students and parents is rigorous early elementary education with literacy skills at its core," said Anne Botticelli, chief academic officer of the Buffalo Public Schools. "With reduced class sizes in kindergarten and first grade beginning in the fall of 2016, we will be better able to focus on increasing vocabulary and background knowledge, decoding skills, and instilling a love of reading in our students. We are, as always, grateful to our partners for their attention to our children's success."

"When children fall behind at an early age, it can be very difficult to overcome," Congressman Brian Higgins said. "This grant from the AARP Foundation and matching funds from the Oishei Foundation and Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo will pair eager, competent tutors with over 300 Buffalo Public School students through the work of Read to Succeed to ensure they receive the support they need to develop strong literacy skills and stay on track for success."

"From day one as mayor, I've made it a priority to support a number of educational initiatives to help ensure that our city children and grandchildren are literate, educated, healthy and provided with opportunity, and today I thank the AARP Foundation for this grant award that will further grow student reading success in Buffalo school children by matching them with city seniors," said Mayor Byron W. Brown. He recently announced an allocation of $40,000 in financial incentives to city seniors who volunteer to tutor students in Buffalo as part of a partnership with Say Yes and Read to Succeed. "Our children are our future and we must do everything we can to make sure they get the educational tools they need to succeed as early in life as possible. Senior citizens are a reservoir of knowledge and life experiences, and they make great mentors. This grant from the AARP Foundation - matched by funds from the Oishei Foundation and Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo - will help us further strengthen our existing and new efforts to improve literacy in our young people."

Volunteer recruitment partners include The Service Collaborative of Western New York, the largest provider of volunteer services to schools and community agencies in the region, as well as the Erie County Department of Senior Services, City of Buffalo, Catholic Charities Foster Grandparent Program and the Buffalo Teachers Federation. Interested candidates are urged to go to readtosucceedbuffalo.org and click the "Experience Corps" slider for information on how to volunteer.

According to RTSB, research shows children who are low-income, live in a poor community and who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade, are 13 times less likely to graduate high school. By working together. RTSB and AARP Foundation's Experience Corps aim to transform schools with the lowest literacy levels, while enriching the lives of volunteers and strengthening the schools served by RTSB.

In August, AARP Foundation received a $3 million grant from the SIF, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering and service programs. The SIF fosters public and private collaborations to evaluate and grow innovative community-based solutions that work. In just five years, the SIF and its private-sector partners have invested more than $876 million in compelling community solutions. As a result of $295 million in federal grants and more than $581 million in non-federal match commitments, the SIF has made grants to 39 institutions and 353 nonprofits working in 40 states and the District of Columbia.

This subgrant award is the result of an open competition held by AARP Foundation to identify and select promising organizations in high need communities to implement and rigorously evaluate the Experience Corps model.

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