Reading and comprehension are the most foundational skills we can build for our children.
In UWECI’s five-county service area, only 61% of low-income children are proficient in reading, compared to 84% of higher-income children. If a child is not reading proficiently by the time they finish third grade, they are four times more likely not to graduate high school on time. If this same child is also low-income, they are 13 times more likely not to graduate high school on time than a higher-income, proficient peer.
Graduating poor readers and poorly prepared students means our workplaces have less educated candidates to build businesses and shape our communities. We must address this academic gap so all children have skills and opportunities needed to succeed in school, work, and life.
How can we address this gap? How can we help improve the future of our children and the future our Eastern Iowa workforce? We can offer our time and talent as reading mentors. Many school districts, rotary clubs, and UWECI offer opportunities to become directly involved in the students’ success.
Reading mentors play several key roles as they tutor and work with students. They are supporters by acting as a sounding board for ideas and concerns. They are coaches in giving advice and guidance, as well as providing feedback about literacy, learning, and the importance of education. Finally, they are champions by serving as advocates for volunteer work being done mentors help to raise the importance and profile for reading proficiency in East Central Iowa.
We hope you will raise your hand and volunteer to take on the significant role of a reading mentor in your community. Children who meet with mentors enjoy reading more and have greater improvements in reading fluency. By volunteering as a mentor or tutor, you will make a difference in a child’s success in school and in life.