Midland Area Community Foundation Grant Supports Collaborative Summer Reading Program

The Legacy Center for Community Success received a $10,000 grant for its summer reading program from the Midland Area Community Foundation.

“The pandemic has had a profound impact on education in ways we could not have imagined,” said Kathryn Tate, president and CEO of the Legacy Center. “A study published this year found that between 30% and 50% of second and third graders have reading skills after more than a year of the pandemic.”

The program will serve about 60 students moving into grades one, two and three, according to a July 20 news release. The Legacy Center is working with Greater Midland and the Meridian SPARKS program to offer the Read2Lead program at each of their summer childcare sites for participants who need extra reading support.

The Read2Lead program combines small group phonics-based reading instruction with leadership skills building. Depending on the site, students receive 60 minutes of reading instruction three or four days a week. Students work in groups of two to five students with similar abilities.

“This program will help children catch up and reduce the summer slide,” Tate added in the press release.

The funds were recently granted by the Foundation’s Esther and Carl Gerstacker Endowment Fund for Education and Public Safety. Additional funding was provided by Huhtamaki, United Way of Midland County, Kiwassee Kiwanis and Meridian Public Schools.

The Midland Area Community Foundation exists to cultivate the power of giving within our community, support long-term transformation, and help ensure the flourishing of all residents. The Legacy Center is a local non-profit organization that helps individuals, youth and families realize their potential through literacy services, youth development and substance use prevention.

Legacy Center instructors focus on proper phonetic skills to ensure students are ready to start school in the fall. Students entering first grade receive instruction in letter sounds, letter formation, and reading and spelling three-letter words. Students entering second grade work on reading and spelling words with short vowels, long vowels, and blends. Ascending third graders work on multi-syllable words and words with vowel teams.

Students in the winter pilot program improved their phonics skills by an average of 55%.

In addition to reading instruction, students at most sites also work with an instructor to foster interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, relationship building, and recognizing their own strengths. Developing these skills helps students gain the confidence to work on their reading skills together.

“The Community Foundation grant allowed us to double the number of students we could serve this summer,” Tate said. “We are very grateful for their support.”

The future of the Read2Lead program will depend on the needs of the students. According to the release, Legacy Center staff will connect with local schools to assess program needs for the new school year and collaborate to serve students where partnerships emerge.

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