Supporting the Journey
Like many organizations in 2020, Read to Succeed Asheville-Buncombe (R2S) quickly pivoted its services when the pandemic struck. The transition from in-person tutoring with K-3rd graders to virtual tutoring was challenging; learning new technology, developing online versions of training(s), and supporting tutors while working remotely required more resources and expertise than ever before.
A WNC Bridge IMPACT Grant awarded to R2S at the end of 2020 supported the ongoing transition to virtual tutoring, equipping R2S with new software that allowed them to collect permission forms from families online, communicate with schools and families via text, utilize video communications platforms for tutoring sessions, and create high-quality training videos that volunteer tutors could view at home. In addition, the IMPACT Grant funded a valuable position for a communications, marketing, and technology specialist to spearhead many of these efforts.
The IMPACT Grant also supported the development of new workshops and continuing education lessons that were offered to R2S volunteers and tutors as well as the wider WNC community. In 2021, community partners and education groups participated in multiple online trainings developed and delivered virtually by R2S for the first time, including Buncombe County Libraries (Youth Services), Dogwood health Trust, Community Action Opportunities, Buncombe Partnership for Children, Literacy Together, and more!
As this community-wide engagement exploded, so did the request for R2S to offer literacy training to the staff members, volunteers, and educators of community partners working with children in Asheville and Buncombe County. Since in-person opportunities opened in June 2021, R2S has trained over 100 teens and adults from the YWCA, Christine Avery Learning Center, Children First (Communities in Schools), and Arthur R. Edington Center in phonological awareness, phonics, and how best to support the young readers their programs serve.
“We cannot overstate the ripple effect this work has on the wider community. As more and more people learn the foundational skills they can use with children to support their reading journeys before, during, and after school, the more we will see the needle move when it comes to literacy achievement and closing the opportunity gap,” notes Jaimee Stanley, Co-Executive Director of Read to Succeed.