Reading Partners

Empowering Students to Become Lifelong Readers

Throughout the United States, children are not receiving the support they need to be proficient in reading, a foundational skill that sets the stage for all future learning. In 1999, three community leaders in Menlo Park, California saw this issue and started a program that would eventually become Reading Partners. They were committed to improving equitable access to high-dosage literacy support for children and created a program that provided tutoring and other evidence-based literacy support for students striving to read at grade level. Since then, Reading Partners has expanded to 12 metro regions across the country where they have partnered with more than 500 under-resourced public schools and 80,000 community tutors to provide more than 2.7 million individualized literacy tutoring sessions to more than 75,000 elementary school students.

Reading Partners’ mission is to work with elementary students who have experienced a significant opportunity gap due to educational inequities and therefore are still striving to master foundational reading skills and who are 6 months to 2.5 years behind grade-level proficiency. “More than 90% of our students are students of color, children who have all-too-often not received equitable learning opportunities in our country’s imbalance education system,” says Reading Partners CEO, Adeola Whitney, “Our organization aims to uproot deeply ingrained educational obstacles by providing educational access and opportunities for children who have been historically marginalized.” 

Reading Partners’ Cover to Cover series aims to make the texts used in their curriculum more engaging and reflective of the diverse populations of students they serve.

Students who participate in Reading Partners receive one-on-one tutoring twice a week by a community volunteer. Dylan, a Reading Partners student says, “I like Reading Partners because it is fun! When you read you learn, and when you learn you do better in school.” Reading Partners provides a fun and safe environment for kids to be with tutors who truly care about their educational growth and development. “The ability to read transforms lives and empowers children and communities to reach their full potential,” says Hector Salazar, an executive director at Reading Partners. 

Now more than ever there is a need for improvement in the U.S. education system and for Reading Partners’ work. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the widespread school interruptions exacerbated pre-existing opportunity gaps and the disrupted learning disproportionately impacted students of color and students experiencing economic disadvantages. During this time, Reading Partners saw these issues and rose to the challenge by providing valuable resources to students everywhere. Whitney says that while the pandemic was challenging, “we do feel like it accelerated the progress we were able to make in terms of developing an online tutoring platform and that platform has opened some innovative possibilities in terms of who we can reach and how we can reach them through community and national partnerships.” 

If you’re interested in volunteering with this fantastic organization, volunteering at Reading Partners is simple! You can sign up at www.readingpartners.org/volunteer, complete a background check and participate in their orientation training sessions. Volunteers spend at least one hour each week tutoring a student. No prior teaching or tutoring experience is required and their sessions follow a highly effective, easy-to-use curriculum that allows tutors to deliver lessons to their students as if they are literacy experts.

Learn more about Reading Partners by visiting https://readingpartners.org/

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