America Reads

The America Reads initiative began as a challenge put forth by former President Bill Clinton to “ensure that every child can read independently by third grade.” Citizens from all walks of life across the nation have answered the call to improve the literacy skills of struggling readers. VCU has responded to the challenge by setting aside college work-study funds for eligible students who want to make a difference in the life of a child.

The VCU America Reads Program is a sister program to the VCU AmeriCorps Program that places college work-study students in local elementary schools to provide comprehensive reading support to students who are below grade level in reading.

Why Improve Literacy?

Reading by third grade has been identified by the Richmond community as a critical preventive strategy in addressing the health and safety needs of children in the metro area.  Research has shown that students that do not read well by third grade have a difficult time succeeding academically and are more likely to make negative choices in life.

How do VCU America Reads Members Improve Literacy?

The VCU America Reads initiative offers students the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience providing a meaningful service to local children and schools while at the same time earning money to support their education. Positions are available for reading coaches as well as team leaders who help to coordinate services at each partner school.

Members support elementary school students who are struggling academically.  Members also assist their schools with other academic assistance and support activities specific to individual school needs. These activities provide program members with meaningful experiences and communicative exchange allowing for a variety of positive influences on children. These types of interaction also afford members opportunities to emphasize to students the importance of developing strong reading skills, good grades and general academic success.

Program Benefits

  • Real-world experience.
  • Networking opportunities with school personnel and representatives from local human service agencies and organizations.
  • Valuable training and leadership opportunities that will enhance personal growth.
  • The chance to change lives in a positive way.