Tennessee Department of Education Awards More Than $8.8 Million for Read to Be Ready Summer Programs

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today the 203 public school recipients of the 2018 Read to be Ready Summer Grants, which will provide a total of $8,860,000 in funding for tuition-free, month-long literacy-focused summer camps for 7,700 students in need across the state. For summer 2018, the third year of the grant program, the department has increased funding per student to allow more sites the ability to offer transportation for students. This will allow programs to fully fund the key components of successful camps, like providing a variety of high-quality texts and a range of learning experiences, while also meeting a key need for students.

“As we have seen the past two years, Read to be Ready summer programs help ensure that our rising first, second and third graders who need it the most are getting additional literacy support throughout the summer months,” Commissioner McQueen said. “This year, we are increasing access to our camps by providing additional funding to programs so that they can offer transportation to and from the summer camp. As last year’s results showed, these camps play a crucial role in increasing students’ vocabulary, reading comprehension and motivation, so we are excited to remove the transportation barrier to allow our students with the highest need to attend.”

Over the past two years, the Tennessee Departments of Education and Human Services, with support from First Lady Crissy Haslam, have partnered to expand the Read to Be Ready Summer Grant program. In 2017, about 8,000 rising first, second, and third grade students demonstrated statistically significant gains in critical reading skills and increased their motivation to read. Additionally, through the 2017 summer grant program, more than 180,000 high-quality books were sent home with students, and each student, on average, received 22 new books for his or her home library.

“We are proud of these recipients for their efforts and for the incredible work that will come this summer in order to make sure that all Tennessee children are reading on grade-level by the end of third grade,” said First Lady Crissy Haslam. “These summer camps are a creative and strategic approach to combat summer slide, which can have a considerable effect on the academic progress that students make during the school year.”

All Tennessee public schools were eligible to apply for the Read to be Ready Summer Grant program. Prospective applicants were asked to design summer camps that were at least four weeks in length and at least four hours per day—providing students with access to at least 80 hours of literacy-focused instruction and enrichment during the summer. The summer camps will use high-interest books, authentic literacy experiences, and engaging field trips to help increase students’ motivation.

Read to be Ready is a coordinated campaign launched by Governor Bill Haslam, First Lady Crissy Haslam, and Commissioner Candice McQueen in February 2016 with the goal to increase third grade reading proficiency in Tennessee to 75 percent by 2025 through a variety of initiatives. The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance of reading, unite efforts to address low reading achievement, highlight best practices, and build partnerships.

The full list of 2018 Read to be Ready summer grant recipients and local program directors is available on the department’s website. To find out more about the grants, visit the Read to be Ready website. For more information on Read to be Ready and the summer grant program, contact Paige Atchley, Read to be Ready program director, at Paige.Atchley@tn.gov. For media inquiries, contact Sara Gast, director of communications, at (615) 532-6260 or Sara.Gast@tn.gov.

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