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My Town Hero: Program helping children become better readers | My Town Hero

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My Town Hero: Program helping children become better readers
My Town Hero
My Town Hero: Program helping children become better readers

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – One man in Little Rock has started a program designed to help children become better readers. Second Baptist Church in downtown Little Rock started the MLK Reads program a year ago with the help of Minister Chris Ellis.

"We looked around and felt that third grade reading levels were connected to drop out rates, poverty rates, and incarceration,” explained Ellis. "We didn't want to just put a Band-aid on something. We wanted to get to the root causes."

According to a recent report published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, about 16 percent of children who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade do not graduate from high school on time. That number rose to 35 percent for children who were also poor, putting them at a major disadvantage when it comes to their education.

Ellis and the church decided to team up with Martin Luther King Elementary to target students K through third grade with the greatest needs. Ellis worked to secure grants, so that nearly 60 kids could sign up for the program, which provides tutoring during the school year, summer reading camps, and much more.

"Before school starts in the fall, we help buy them clothes, and then in December, we take the families shopping for coats,” Ellis continued. “We're trying to connect to the whole family as well as help students learn how to read."

He says after one year, students are already making great strides in the program. Nine-year-old Christazia Kye is already on a path to reading success.

"I always catch her trying to read things, pronounce things out,” said her mother, LaTosha Kye. "Before she got in the program she didn't know a lot of words and now she can read complete sentences."

Ellis' commitment to youth and education gives parents hope that their children can now reach their true potential and go on to live successful lives.

To learn more about the program and becoming a volunteer, click here: http://www.2bclr.com/mission/getinvolved/

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