GREENVILLE, S.C., March 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Following last year's successful pilot program, Duke Energy and Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation's largest children's literacy organization, are partnering for a second consecutive year to minimize the summer slide and improve the reading proficiency of more than 3,000 current second graders in South Carolina.
During the summer months, all children are at risk of losing some of the learning and skills they've acquired over the school year. If the summer learning slide is not addressed at an early age, some children might fall behind as much as three years in reading comprehension by the end of fifth grade. In addition, existing research shows that 75 percent of students who read poorly in third grade, a benchmark for literacy skill building, remain poor readers in high school.
For the pilot year of the program, data was reported from 28 schools comparing second graders' test performance in spring 2016 compared to third graders in fall 2016. More than half of those reporting showed gains or no change in reading proficiency, a successful outcome for the first year of this type of program.
Angela Lisenby, a school reading specialist in McColl, S.C., a small rural town in Marlboro County, reported after last year's program that the books "definitely motivated" children to read. "The students were very excited," she said. "I even had one tell me, 'It feels like Christmas. I've never had my own books.' There was not one child that wasn't engaged."
As part of RIF's Read for Success program, the students receive eight books of their choosing and a book bag, journal and other motivational items to take home to enhance reading over the summer months. Last year, more than 26,000 books went home with students for the summer.
In addition, teachers receive a collection of 35 fiction and nonfiction books for the classroom and school library; printed and online access to enrichment and instructional activities; and in-person and online professional development to effectively implement the program model.
"The unfortunate reality is that six out of 10 low-income families have no age-appropriate books in their homes," said Alicia Levi, president and CEO of RIF. "The eight books and literacy resources students take home at the end of the school year not only motivate them to read over the summer, but more importantly, provide the fundamental building blocks needed to achieve their highest potential."
Families in participating South Carolina schools will be encouraged to take part in the summer book distributions – to begin in the coming weeks – and share stories together to help students develop a love of reading and experience the magic of books.
As with last year, dozens of Duke Energy employees will volunteer at these events, helping distribute books and talking to students about science and technology careers.
RIF will also have available supplemental booklists and fun activities for families to experience reading throughout the summer.
"Reading proficiency is the most important predictor of school success and high school graduation," said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, president of Duke Energy in South Carolina. "Our children are the future leaders of our communities, and it is imperative that we as a company and community contribute to their success."
The program will be available in 36 Title I elementary schools in the Pee Dee region in northeast South Carolina. School districts in the South Carolina program include: Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, and Williamsburg.
About Duke Energy
The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to address the needs of the communities where its customers live and work. The foundation provides more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts. The foundation's education focus spans kindergarten to career, particularly science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), early childhood literacy and workforce development. It also supports the environment and community impact initiatives, including arts and culture.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) employees and retirees actively contribute to their communities as volunteers and leaders at a wide variety of nonprofit organizations. Duke Energy is committed to building on its legacy of community service. For more information, visit http://www.duke-energy.com/foundation.
About Reading Is Fundamental
Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is committed to a literate America by inspiring a passion for reading among all children, providing quality content to create impact, and engaging communities in the solution to give every child the fundamentals for success. As a champion for children's literacy since 1966, RIF has provided more than 412 million books to 40 million RIF kids over 50 years, inspiring generations to read, learn and grow. Sign up for our newsletter at www.rif.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to learn more.
Ryan Mosier, Duke Energy
Aubrey Bourgeois, Reading Is Fundamental
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SOURCE Duke Energy