Want to rehome books for early readers, and help local children in our community in the process?
The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce is seeking donations of gently used, age-appropriate books for early readers, in kindergarten and first grade.
The book drive is in conjunction with the iRead-iCount initiative, a community volunteer effort aimed at boosting the number of Champaign Unit 4 Schools students who are reading at grade level.
The iRead-iCount initiative launched in February with four participating schools, and will be ramping up to 200 volunteers this fall. It is led by the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Champaign County, which advanced the program with the long-term goal to improve the low rate of local third graders who are meeting or exceeding expectations on state reading exams.
Volunteers, who received training from school staff, spent at least an hour a week in a kindergarten classroom beginning in mid-February. The results from the spring semester show significant progress; average improvement on Letter ID went up 96.93 percent, for example.
Coming this fall, volunteers can choose to spend time on reading and/or math skills, and can preference which school they work with (currently Stratton, Booker T. Washington, Garden Hills and Dr. Howard elementary schools).
The program hopes to add Urbana 116 schools sooner than later, officials said.
“The goal is to be the extra ‘human’ resources in the classroom and hopefully help to close the achievement gap. Every single kindergartner who worked with a volunteer saw progress in their letter identification and letter writing skills,” the Champaign County Chamber wrote in a post on Facebook.
The gently used books collected by the Chamber will be distributed by the Carle Mobile Clinic over the summer. Books can be dropped off at the Chamber office, located at 303 W. Kirby Ave., Champaign (in other words, next to Jarling’s Custard Cup). Call 217. 359.1791 with questions.
Interested in helping out the program this fall? Volunteers must pass a background check and participate in mandatory training. The deadline to apply to participate in iRead kindergarten is August 9, 2019. The deadline to apply to volunteer in the iCount Kindergarten is September 20, 2019.
Applications and more information can be found online at: https://www.champaigncounty.org/workforce-development.