DPS’ Reading Corps tallies more than a half-million volunteer hours annually!

Contact: Steven Wasko at 313-873-4542 Or Jennifer Mrozowski at 313-873-8401

Detroit Public Schools has tallied more than a half-million volunteer hours annually for the district’s new Reading Corps, an initiative to tutor children in reading and help reach DPS’ goal to have every third-grader read at grade level or above by 2015.

Robert Bobb, the district’s Emergency Financial Manager, in partnership with the Detroit Free Press, initially called on citizens to volunteer 100,000 hours collectively to tutor reading in DPS schools and help a child learn to read. Bobb then upped the ante, calling on people to give a half-million hours over five years.

The volunteer hours pledged have exceeded Bobb’s new goal five times over. Over five years, the volunteer hours would total more than 2.5 million.

Bobb wishes to thank all volunteers who want to participate in this important effort.

“This outpouring of assistance underscores the extreme urgency and need to improve academics in Detroit Public Schools, a system that has failed our children for far too long. We at DPS – and the thousands of citizens committed to this initiative – refuse to let DPS children fail,” Bobb said. “We are extremely thankful for the thousands of people from the City of Detroit and metropolitan area who want to join our teachers in strengthening reading skills.”

DPS is still seeking additional volunteers for the Reading Corps initiative, which targets students in Pre-K through third grade.

The Call to Action for a new Reading Corps came on the heels of recent test scores that showed Detroit schoolchildren ranked the lowest in the nation of participants on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math test.

In terms of performance in the fourth grade in Detroit on the math test, 69 percent of students scored at a below basic level. In terms of performance levels in the eighth grade in Detroit, 77 percent were below basic.

“These scores confirm that we have a reading emergency,” Bobb said. “But we do not want these scores to paralyze us. On the contrary, knowing where our children are academically provides us the opportunity to strategically develop and tailor our academics to the specific needs of Detroit children. We are doing everything in our power to completely remake the academic program in Detroit Public Schools, and we are asking the community to join in the fight to ensure our children have every opportunity to be successful. Please volunteer with us and help a child learn to read.”

To date, more than 4,400 people and corporations have pledged to volunteer more than 515,000 hours annually. To volunteer, go to http://www.detroit.k12.mi.us/readingcorps/ or call (313) 870-KNOW — 313 870-5669.

All volunteers will receive training and must undergo a criminal background check. Schedules are posted on DPS’ Web site. Each volunteer is asked to commit on average an hour a week.

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