The most crucial predictor of a child’s academic success is their parent’s English reading and writing proficiency. In New York City, approximately 18% of adult residents do not speak English proficiently, which means many city children do not have the same educational opportunities as their peers in the suburbs1. With limited linguistic skills, these students have a much harder time graduating from high school, college, and advancing their careers.
Though literacy programs for pre-K, elementary, middle school, and high-school students do exist in New York, they may be threatened by city budget cuts that will reduce the availability of literacy coaches and after-school programs2. This lack of support means the responsibility of educating the city’s youth falls on the shoulders of parents, guardians, volunteers, and nonprofits with free reading and writing programs.
Volunteer in NYC with these 5 literacy organizations to help children in your community become better readers, learners, and provide them with more potential career opportunities.
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Reading Partners works with underserved students in New York City and helps them improve their literacy skills and confidence through one-on-one tutoring. The organization focuses on building partnerships between students, parents, educators, and community volunteers. This holistic approach to literacy has empowered students from the Bronx to Brooklyn. During the 2016-17 school year, Reading Partners reported that 90% of their pupils had mastered key foundational skills and were able to read at grade level.
Through literacy, children are more likely to graduate high school, attend college, and stay out of trouble. Students in their program meet with volunteers twice a week and follow a structured curriculum that can more than double their rate of learning. Become a volunteer, lead a book drive, or become a school partner to help Reading Partners improve childhood literacy.
Girls Write Now
Though the gender pay gap has narrowed since 1980, women on average still earned 80% of what their male counterparts earned in 20173. Gender discrimination and educational attainment both affect a young woman’s ability to reach the same socioeconomic status as a man. Underserved young women face an even greater uphill battle to break the cycle of poverty.
By teaming up with Girls Write Now, mentors have the opportunity to help girls of color, immigrants, LGBT/non-conforming, and high-need students find their voice in a society that has done its’ best to keep them silent. Mentors who match the organization's requirements will be provided with training, ongoing guidance, and the ability to contribute to a dynamic community. To become a mentee, one must live within the five boroughs, be in grades 9-12 and be able to meet weekly for in-person mentoring sessions.
Literacy Partners provides low-income New York City families with free educational classes that improve literacy in parents and their children. On average, the organization's programs have increased the amount of time parents spend reading with their children weekly by 50%4. Children who are read to have a more substantial vocabulary, have improved comprehension abilities, and develop effective discussion skills.
English proficiency also leads to better jobs, high school equivalency degrees, and college acceptance. To get involved with Literacy Partners, one can become a volunteer, join their marathon team, bike for books, or become a friend of the organization.
InsideSchools believes that parents who are active participants in their child’s education are key to their students’ education. The organization provides a wide range of after-school and summer programs for New York City students who would like to explore new interests, need extra support, or want to supplement what they learned at school. They also provide academic, safety, and enrollment data for parents who are enrolling their children in the New York City public school system so that they can make the best decision for their child.
There are no current volunteer opportunities available through InsideSchools. However, the organization has plenty of upcoming after-school and summer arts, science, math, and writing programs for pre-K, elementary, middle school, and high school students.
Every child in New York City should be able to read at grade level and develop the skills they need to embrace academic challenges. Literacy Inc (LINC) helps children between 0-8 years old develop literacy skills that, by the end of third grade, will allow students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn. The organization also works with parents and community members to support young readers in high need neighborhoods. By making literacy a community effort, they can break the cycle of poverty, improve high school graduation rates, and provide children with more options for career advancement.
To help LINC. community members can join their Very Involved Parent program, organize a book drive, attend their events, or become a partner.
These five organizations have helped students across the Five Boroughs become avid learners, improved their literacy skills, and opened up academic and career opportunities that would not have been previously available. By volunteering, mentoring, or becoming involved with Reading Partners, Girls Write Now, Literacy Partners, InsideSchools, or LINC you can improve childhood literacy in your community and change the trajectory of a child’s life.
If you are interested in more ways to get involved in your community, subscribe to NYXT for monthly updates on community engagement opportunities in New York City.
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