Economically disadvantaged students across DC struggle to keep pace with their peers in reading proficiency. In 2017, fewer than 22% who were eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch were at grade level for literacy and language arts a disturbing statistic indeed. But Reading Partners is dedicated to reversing the trend, providing its transformational literacy program to 925 young readers each year at 19 Title I elementary schools across the District. It creates welcoming reading centers stocked with books, and trains 40-100 volunteers per school to provide, with on-site support from trained AmeriCorps members, one-on-one instruction that follows a research-based curriculum. All children have Individualized Reading Plans, and regular assessments measure their progress and reveal impressive results. Last year, 88% of students met or exceeded their year-end goals for literacy growth. Your support opens books, and worlds, for these deserving kids.

COVID-19 Update: During the school closures this spring, Reading Partners gave partner schools multiple options: coordinating virtual story times, sharing a digital resource library, and hosting virtual family literacy nights through DCPS's distance learning platform. It also started implementing small group distance tutoring sessions and providing distance-learning materials for Spanish-speaking students at a partner schools in Ward 7 where just a handful of English Language Learners were enrolled. As Reading Partners Connects launched this fall, staff remain dedicated to fostering a supportive, structured space where students can continue to achieve measurable literacy growth.

Headquarters: DC-Ward 5

Where They Operate: DC-Ward 1; DC-Ward 4; DC-Ward 5; DC-Ward 6; DC-Ward 7; DC-Ward 8

Age Groups Served: Youth (5-11)

Population(s) Served: Low- to Moderate-Income Community Members; Students

Schools They Work In: Achievement Prep Public Charter School; Aiton Elementary School; Bancroft Elementary School; Beers Elementary School; Brightwood Education Campus; City Arts + Prep ; Drew Elementary School; HD Cooke Elementary School; Height Elementary School; Kimball Elementary School; Malcolm X Elementary School; Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School; Nalle Elementary School; Patterson Elementary School; Payne Elementary School; Plummer Elementary School; Seaton Elementary School; Wheatley Education Campus; Whittier Education Campus

  • Number of people (clients, patrons, students, etc) we serve annually:   925 students in 2017-18
  • Number of volunteers who work with us annually:   1,100 volunteers in 2017-18
  • % of students who met or exceeded their end-of-year literacy growth goals in 2016-17:   90
  • % of teachers who report Reading Partners is valuable to their school:   97
  • % of volunteers who were satisfied with their experience in 2016-17:   97

Awards & Recognition

A randomized control trial conducted by MDRC, an independent policy research firm, found Reading Partners to have positive and statistically significant impacts on reading proficiency. The research has been accepted and highlighted by the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC).

Reading Partners is a priority partner of the Empowering Males of Color initiative, DC Public Schools' effort to prepare males of color for college, careers, and beyond.


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Budget (FY2016)

  • The current budget for Reading Partners is: $3 million or higher
  • $1 million to $3 million
  • $500k to $1 million
  • Less than $500k

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