Giving Tuesday: Arizona nonprofit working to end elementary literacy crisis

Read Better, Be Better has paired third graders struggling with reading comprehension with middle schoolers.
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 4:14 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - One local organization has gone above and beyond on this Giving Tuesday in order to help children with their reading comprehension in a neat way.

Now, they’re asking for help from the community to continue their mission. Since 2014, the organization Read Better, Be Better has paired third graders struggling with reading comprehension with middle schoolers. They’ve seen incredible improvement enough to change the trajectory of many young students’ life.

“Currently 65% of Arizona third-graders are not reading at grade-level. And, we know that if you’re not reading at grade-level by the end of third grade then you’re four times less likely to graduate from high school,” said Alex Peck, director of the organization. He said his goal is to end the elementary literacy crisis. “Reading is one of those things you need to be successful in in every other subject in school. So they might be struggling with reading but then they’ll struggle in other areas as well.”

Read Better, Be Better is helping students with reading comprehension while teaching leadership...
Read Better, Be Better is helping students with reading comprehension while teaching leadership skills.(Arizona's Family)

Since its inception in 2014, the group said they’ve seen real results. “Read Better, Be Better students will grow 20% more than non-Read Better, Be Better students on standardized testing,” Peck said. While the program is beneficial for young readers, it also has a positive impact on those who may be mentoring for the very first time.

“It’s a really unique leadership opportunity for them. We recruit middle schoolers who might not have ever volunteered in the past,” Peck said. This Giving Tuesday, they’re looking to raise $10,000, an amount that would go a long way. “We provide everything for our programs, from the snacks that we provide students to the books, the pencils, the pencil sharpeners,” said Bobbi Burmeister, a Read Better, Be Better program manager.

The program is already in 64 schools, including 11 school districts statewide. “We serve the students in the communities that will grow up and make a change, and so I think we are really investing in our future by supporting our local students,” Burmeister said. As of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the organization has raised over $8,000, an amount pretty very close to its goal! If you’d like to donate, click here.