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Non-profits Send Kids on a Reading Adventure

Frankie Robbins tutors Tashaun Dixon at the WEC.

Eighty percent of students engaged with Roanoke’s West End Center graduate high school, despite being economically disadvantaged and at greater risk of academic failure, thanks to programs that foster academic success.  That statistic, which is significantly higher than the city-wide rate, was one of the reasons Foundation for Roanoke Valley recently awarded two grants totaling ,000 from its Unrestricted Funds to West End Center for its Reading Adventure Program.  The Center’s program, which works in partnership with Apple Ridge Farm, is designed to improve literacy skills among Roanoke’s at-risk youth.

According to Joy Parrish, West End Center’s Executive Director, results from the reading program show that 94 percent of students have increased their reading levels by one grade level or more, 11 percent have increased their reading levels by two grade levels, and 80 percent of students have demonstrated an enjoyment for reading by spontaneously choosing a book to read without prompting.

“Spontaneously choosing a book at the appropriate level is indicative of an enjoyment of reading. That enjoyment can unlock the entire world for a child,” says Parrish.

“The Foundation was impressed with the results of this program, and we wanted to help insure that many more youth would be able to benefit from it in the years ahead,” notes Alan Ronk, Executive Director of Foundation for Roanoke Valley.

The Reading Adventure Program utilizes proven success of the High Scope curriculum, based on listening, phonics, developing vocabulary, and writing to teach and improve basic literacy skills to children in kindergarten through the sixth grade. Students attend the program twice a week during the school year and daily during the summer months. Children in kindergarten through third grade focus on letter-sound correspondence, phonemes, spelling patterns, creative writing, sight vocabulary, and fluency. Fourth, fifth, and sixth graders continue practicing foundational skills, but also learn to integrate automatic word identification, comprehension, and writing skills.

“Making a critical difference in a child’s ability to read holds long-term positive ramifications for the community, and we are glad that some of our many endowment donors have provided unrestricted resources that enable us to significantly fund quality programs like the Reading Adventure Program, “ adds Ronk.

Foundation for Roanoke Valley has served the Roanoke Valley for more than 20 years. The Foundation currently administers over 240 named endowment funds on behalf of the community. Unrestricted endowments are particularly powerful as they provide the Foundation with the flexibility over time to seek out and fund highly effective programs across a wide-range of community needs. Folks interested in establishing their own personal or family legacy through an unrestricted endowment or any of the many other types of endowment funds offered by the community foundation should visit

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