By Rayna Dineen, Executive Director of Reading Quest
Did you know that 72% of Santa Fe students are not able to read proficiently at grade level? Reading Quest began in 2012 when Governor Martinez wanted to hold back all third graders who were not reading at grade level. My middle school students at Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences started a citywide literacy campaign called Hooked on Books that focused on teens encouraging and inspiring young kids to get hooked on reading. We created exciting, creative literacy contests for all Santa Fe students and placed free bookshelves filled with children’s books all over town in places where low-income families have to wait for long periods of time.
When we saw the kind of books that older students were reading, and read their contest entries, we decided we needed to offer an intensive summer reading program, which we called Reading is Magic. This summer will be the eighth year of Reading is Magic camp, and we will be offering eight weeks of camp this year. For the past eight summers, our campers have made, on average, slightly more than one year’s growth in reading in just two weeks.
We then expanded Hooked on Books into a full-time, year-round nonprofit called Reading Quest. We provide high-quality, professional, free, and affordable tutoring, using phonics, songs, games, and American Sign Language for 270 students each week. 95% of our students receive our services free of charge, and many are homeless or experiencing trauma at home. We focus on serving students who struggle with learning how to read and are one or more grade levels behind their grade. Many have learning disabilities and about 80% speak Spanish as their native language. We tutor in school, after school, and Saturdays. We also coach and train SFPS teachers and tutors from local nonprofits and collaborate with Communities in Schools and Adelante and other groups that work with children in need. We have an amazing team of adult and teen tutors who empower our students to believe in themselves and reach for their dreams.
Thank you so much to Camila Kattell for donating her beautiful children’s books and Don Willerton who also just donated his wonderful young adult books to Reading Quest! It was such a wonderful surprise to receive these books so soon after meeting all of you!
It was a pleasure to meet your wonderful association of writers! Reading Quest is always thrilled to receive new or used children’s books and are deeply appreciative of monetary donations, which allow us to continue to serve all children who need reading support. Feel free to visit our website at readingquestcenter.org or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 920- 9709 if you have any questions.
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