Knoxville, Tenn. – In recognition of National Library Week (April 10-16) and Support Teen Literature Day (April 14), Boys & Girls Clubs of America announces the expansion of its reading initiative that promotes both educational and leisure reading for tweens and teens through a $1.15 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. The Bright Spot for Reading initiative will be added to 100 Boys & Girls Clubs across the U.S. to create a dedicated reading center for members.
According to the 2009 Reading Report Card, only 33 percent of fourth graders are reading proficiently and 17 percent of low-income fourth-grade students are reading well. By the eighth grade, the reading proficiency rate drops to 32 percent for all students and 16 percent for low-income eighth-grade students.
The Walmart Foundation previously funded BGCA with $1.4 million for Bright Spot for Reading initiatives at 100 Clubs in the U.S. Since that time, it’s estimated that more than 6,000 young people are actively reading in Bright Spots and 40 percent of Clubs have seen an increase in teen participation. The new $1.15 million grant will expand the Walmart Foundation’s Bright Spot for Reading initiative to include an additional 100 Bright Spots at Clubs across the U.S.
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley’s “Bright Spot” is located in the Moses Teen Center at 220 Carrick Street in the Mechanicsville neighborhood. The reading area funded by the Wal-Mart Bright Spot for Reading initiative provides a comfortable and aesthetically appealing place for members of Moses Teen Center to relax and read. Located in the tech lab of the center, the area is defined by shelving, couches, tables, lamps, area rugs, and full size lounging pillows as well as wall décor.
Moses Teen Center established reading/discussion groups within their existing “SMART Girls” and “Passport to Manhood” clubs with 10-12 members regularly participating. Thanks to the Wal-Mart Foundation’s Bright Spot initiative, other Club members have gained interest in reading with sixty (60) members taking the initial survey required to take part in the project.
According to John D. Lee, President & CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley, “It is our hope that this newly gained interest in reading will spread throughout Moses Teen Center and the entire Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley organization.” The first group reading of the project consisted of Club members reading and discussing “The Color Purple,” followed by a field trip the Tennessee Theatre for the play “The Color Purple” touring America.
“The Walmart Foundation’s Bright Spot for Reading initiative is essential in motivating our youth to read and preparing them for academic success,” continued Lee, “We are grateful to the Walmart Foundation for the opportunity to create an environment that will encourage and allow our youth to enjoy and develop a lifelong love of reading.”
Beginning February 1, 2011, the Bright Spot Reading Centers will feature books targeting young people ages 11 to 15; including programs to encourage Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley members to read more and develop a positive attitude toward reading. The centers will offer activities in drama, art and technology; field trips and service learning projects to integrate reading opportunities into every area of the Club.
“At Walmart, we believe education is critical to the lives and success of our nation’s youth,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. “We’re proud to provide the opportunity for more teens to use the Bright Spot reading rooms to grow, learn and excel at school, at home and at Clubs across America.”
In addition to the Club’s new Bright Spot Reading Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s teen website www.myclubmylife.com will continue to serve as a resource for the Club to promote the reading initiative; highlight age-appropriate books and book reviews; and encourage tweens and teens to read more and share their reading experiences with others. Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley will also strengthen existing and develop new relationships with local libraries to enhance its programs and services.
Located at 220 Carrick Street, Moses Teen Center provides program opportunities for over 500 boys and girls each year. The Club is open Monday-Friday, 3 to 8 p.m. during the school year, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during summer and school holidays. Children interested in joining the Club, learning more about The Walmart Foundation Bright Spot for Reading Initiative or other youth programs may contact Shauna McKinney at Moses Teen Center, (865) 232-1210.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org) has changed and saved lives, enabling young people to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, some 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve some 4 million children and teens through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in neighborhoods throughout the country and on U.S. military installations worldwide, providing a wide variety of youth development programs conducted by trained, professional staff. Key programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta.
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. The Walmart Foundation funds initiatives focused on education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From Feb. 1, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $512 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally, $467 million of which was donated in the U.S. To learn more, visit www.walmartfoundation.org.
About National Library Week
First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.