Read To Succeed Asheville (R2S) was created in 2009 through the collaboration of community activists and the Asheville Housing Authority. Inspired by the conviction that the achievement gap in Asheville City Schools would have long-term negative consequences for the economic and social fabric of our community, this partnership conceived a program aimed at increasing the number of elementary school children who are reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
The program’s mission and goals are based on data indicating that for some groups of Asheville children only 25% to 40% are at reading level by the third grade. This puts them at considerable risk for failure to graduate from high school, juvenile misbehavior, early pregnancy and long-term unemployment.
The first school-based Read To Succeed project was established at Ira B. Jones Elementary School in the spring semester of 2010 and a second school, Claxton Elementary, was added in the spring of 2011. We have since added Hall Fletcher, Vance and Isaac Dixon Elementary Schools. As our success with this student population spreads, teachers and school administrators eagerly identify children for our program.
In September 2016 we expanded our program into the Buncombe County School District, and placed trained volunteers into Johnston Elementary School.
Our partner schools provide tutoring space and project support through their Volunteer Coordinators. Literacy specialists work closely with R2S to insure the best possible matches between R2S volunteers and students.
The Read To Succeed staff includes approximately 100 volunteers, a full-time paid Program and Training Director and VISTA. Our volunteer Reading Coaches and Buddies undergo comprehensive training and ongoing workshops throughout the school year and summer. They are encouraged to build positive nurturing relationships with their students in the belief that these connections will increase children’s motivation to learn as well as their self-esteem that flows from greater academic confidence.
We are deeply indebted to our volunteers, who dedicate their time and talents and to our valued partners, including The United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, the Asheville Housing Authority, and Asheville City Schools Foundation, who generously provide resources and support.