United Way of the Lowcountry receives AmeriCorps grant for Early Grade Reading Program

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United Way of the Lowcountry has recently been awarded a federal AmeriCorps grant to create greater tutoring capacity for the Early Grade Reading initiative in Beaufort and Jasper County schools for the 2013-2014 school year.

The grant will provide funding for 41 new AmeriCorps members to serve as tutors, mentors and resource support for the program, adding to the nearly 200 local volunteer tutors deployed by the program last year. The United Way of the Lowcountry is currently seeking applicants to the AmeriCorps program for this initiative. All successful applicants will be provided with enhanced learning and training opportunities as well as living allowances and monetary education awards.

AmeriCorps membership will be also be offered to Early Childhood Education and Human Services majors at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort in need of college credit internships and community service project participation. Recent college graduates, retired educators, military spouses and other members of the community are also encouraged to apply for AmeriCorps membership. All openings for the program must be filled by September 4th.

“We are excited about the possibilities for enhancing this program that these AmeriCorps members represent,” said Tina Gentry, United Way of the Lowcountry President and CEO. “We feel that they will add a level of stability and dependability to an already-successful program.”

AmeriCorps members will devote two to four hours per day at least three days a week tutoring students. A portion of the AmeriCorps members will also be responsible for assembling materials and curriculum for the program and serving as liaisons between students, teachers, and other volunteers.

Last year, 154 students participated in the inaugural program in five Beaufort County schools and two Jasper County schools, resulting in an improvement in reading test scores of 97% and 98% respectively.

Bluffton resident Deborah Edmondson has been named United Way of the Lowcountry’s AmeriCorps Program Director. Her duties include supervising AmeriCorps members, attending relevant meetings at participating schools to inform and recruit parents, and developing and implementing the member internship program.

The AmeriCorps grant is a matching grant on a three-year cycle grant that determines eligibility for continuance each year.

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