In the Fall/Winter of 2010/2011, A Better Jamaica conducted a pilot season of Jamaica Reads. Using active neighborhood senior-citizens from a local senior residence, Jamaica Reads placed 5 seniors in each of two 1st grade classes at a local elementary school – for three mornings a week from 9:30 am to 10:30 am.
These “Senior Reading Buddies” were paired with the five weakest readers in each class with the goal of moving the participating children further along the reading/decoding path than they might otherwise progress. Each of the students was at risk of being held over – some for a second time. The seniors were trained by Learning Leaders – the leader in volunteer training for New York City public schools – and were paid a modest stipend for their time and energy.
Having conducted a successful pilot, in the Spring of 2012, A Better Jamaica returned to P.S. 48 with 11 senior-citizens for another season of Jamaica Reads. This time, the seniors worked one-on-one with two sets of first graders — from 9:30 am to 11:30 am — struggling with the acquisition of their reading skills. Twenty-two students (1/3 of the first grade population) were directly impacted by the program.
In January of 2013, Jamaica Reads returned to P.S. 48 for a third season of Jamaica Reads. For the first time, we partnered with Reading Partners (http://www.readingpartners.org) in the delivery of our service to struggling readers. In January of 2014, we returned to P.S. 48 for a fourth year of meeting the needs of struggling readers at P.S. 48. We continued to partner with Reading Partners.
In October of 2014, Jamaica Reads decamped from P.S. 48 — P.S. 48 and P.S. 40 became the beneficiaries of a $1.2 million dollar neighborhood literacy initiative funded by The Pinkerton Foundation — and moved to P.S. 36.
Since moving to P.S. 36, we’ve been able to expand our presence to eight months — from October through May. With additional funding, we’ll expand Jamaica Reads from one school to three schools in Jamaica.
We can fix the problem of less than fifty percent of 3rd and 5th graders in Community Boards 12 and 13 passing their English Language Arts exams — but only if we really want to.
Ongoing funding for Jamaica Reads is currently being sought. If you know of possible funding opportunities, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Support for Jamaica Reads has been provided by:
New York City Council Member I. Daneek Miller
New York City Council Member Thomas White, Jr. (Deceased)
Hitachi Metals America
TD Bank Foundation