CHICAGO – August 26, 2011 – Reading In Motion has been awarded a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust. This is the largest grant in Reading In Motion’s 28-year history, and will be used to expand its innovative, supplemental reading program in nine elementary schools on Chicago’s Northwest side: Barry, Cleveland, Haugan, Hibbard, Lorca, Monroe, Reilly, Reinberg, and Scammon.
“Thanks to this generous funding, we can build upon the successful partnership that was started last year with these schools. This means that Reading In Motion will be in twice as many Chicago classrooms as compared to the 2009-2010 school year, and will help even more kindergarten and first grade students learn how to read,” said Reading In Motion Executive Director Karl Androes.
Since 2001, the Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust has been a valuable contributor of Reading In Motion’s work in Chicago Public Schools. About their support, Co-Trustees James L. Alexander and Bank of America (through Kristin Carlson Vogen, Senior Institutional Philanthropic Specialist) said, “The Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust is pleased to expand its funding of this important organization. As our nation looks for new ways to improve literacy and narrow the achievement gap, Reading In Motion stands out as a program that works.”
This funding will enable Reading In Motion to create a sustainable model for improving literacy with its innovative Benchmarks program. Benchmarks is a unique curriculum that uses music and drama to engage at-risk students when it matters the most – in kindergarten and first grade. The lesson plans, led by Reading In Motion trained teachers, allow children to get out from behind their desks and use their bodies and minds to master reading skills. Reading In Motion offers a full suite of services, including a Spanish Benchmarks program, that helps students at all levels learn how to read.
“Research shows that if students are not reading at grade level by the end of first grade they are at greater risk of remaining a poor reader. By focusing on the early years, Reading In Motion helps prepare students for success in school and in life,” said Androes. “We have a very ambitious goal to serve 10,000 students a year by 2017; four times the amount of students we’re currently serving. Thanks to this new support, we can take the next step in creating a sustainable model that can be used with other groups of schools in Chicago and beyond. It is our hope that this model will help schools continue to get great results even after Reading In Motion is gone.”
Results from the 2010-2011 school year are evidence that Reading In Motion’s Benchmarks program works. Before partnering with Reading In Motion, these nine schools had just 70 percent of their kindergarten students reading at grade level. At the end of the year, 93 percent of English-speaking kindergarten students were reading at grade level, and 87 percent of Spanish-speaking kindergarten students were reading at grade level.
“We’re thrilled with these results. The numbers are impressive, but more importantly these kindergarten students are now better prepared for success in first grade. They’re starting first grade ready to learn and bringing with them a sense of achievement,” said Androes. “In turn, first grade teachers can now spend more instructional time moving these students ahead rather than helping them catch up. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
Reading In Motion’s success in the classroom is built upon the partnerships it develops with teachers and schools. Reading In Motion provides critical hands-on training in the summer and individual coaching to teachers over the course of two years. This ensures that teachers have the necessary techniques, tools and support needed to make the best use of classroom time and to get the results they want.
For Cleveland Elementary Principal Debora Ward, Reading In Motion provided valuable training and support as she restructured her kindergarten program last year. Principal Ward had three new kindergarten teachers (two English; one Spanish) who were eager for a program that would help improve their students reading levels. At the end of the school year, Cleveland’s kindergarten teachers were among the top performing teachers implementing Benchmarks. Principal Ward attributes their success to Reading In Motion’s innovative curriculum and individual coaching.
“Reading In Motion provides an exciting program that gives kids at every level the skills they need to begin to read. It engages both teachers and students, and pushes them to do their best,” said Principal Ward. “Thanks to this new support, we can now create a sustainable reading program that will continue to help all the children that come to Cleveland. I’m looking forward to seeing just how far our students will go.”
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Reading In Motion’s mission is to get every at-risk student reading at or above grade level within the first years of school through the power and discipline of the arts. Reading In Motion is currently in 140 Chicago-area classrooms and has helped more than 45,000 students since it was founded in 1983.
Dedicated to fostering individual self worth and dignity through education assistance to youths with troubled childhoods, the Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust is a major supporter of Reading In Motion. U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, and James L. Alexander are Co-Trustees of the Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust.