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88.5 WFDD: Summer Reading Camp Helps 3rd Graders Meet NC's Read to Achieve Mandate

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Photo: The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust recently issued a grant to the BELL Foundation to support a summer literacy program for financially disadvantaged 3rd graders who are struggling with reading. According to the school district, around 1,600 Forsyth County students are at risk of failing to meet the state mandate. Credit: Keri Brown

By Anissa Morgan

A Triad non-profit is partnering with education leaders in the community to help third graders improve their reading skills.

In North Carolina, a law known as "Read to Achieve" mandates third graders have to be able to read proficiently enough to be promoted to the fourth grade. During the school year, students are tested several times.

Theo Helm, the Director of Marketing & Communications for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County Schools, says like many school districts across the state, a high number of third graders did not pass their end of grade reading test for the 2013-2014 academic school year.

"At this point, we have about 1,600 students who did not pass the end of grade test in reading. About 800 of those will still be able to be promoted to the fourth grade, so we have about 800 students who did not pass the end of grade reading test and who will be asked to come to the summer reading camp."

The summer program in Forsyth County is hosted by the BELL Foundation ("Building Educated Leaders for Life"). The goal of the literacy program is to help third graders meet critical literacy benchmarks. The camp is a free, six-week program that offers both reading instruction and enrichment activities for the students.

In order to reach as many students as possible, The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has awarded the foundation a grant of more than $200,000 to support summer reading programs.

Karen McNeil-Miller, president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, says the organization hopes the resources will help level the playing field for financially-disadvantaged students.

"We want to help them improve their lives through this program," says McNeil-Miller. "We don't believe anyone chooses poverty. And when given the choice, the option, the tools, and when given the support, we think they'll choose to do whatever they need to do for themselves and for their families; to better them financially, economically, socially and educationally."

Registration for the summer reading camp runs through June 19. The program begins on June 30 and will be held Monday-Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The camp is offered at ten schools in Forsyth County. The program also includes free breakfast and lunch each day. Organizers say transportation will be offered if needed. For more information, call (336) 748-4000 ext. 34251.

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