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Literacy program operating at schools in Lewiston, Mexico

Sun Journal | Connections

A public charity, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is marking September as its 20th year of supporting and operating literacy programs in Maine. As part of a month-long focus on Maine, the Foundation is releasing an independent evaluation of its intensive reading program, Teen Trendsetters reading mentors, along with a compendium detailing the $6 million invested to date.

This three-generation family literacy program engages both parents and volunteer teen mentors to support literacy skill development in first- or second-grade students who are, on average, half a year behind in reading. Parents sign a contract agreeing to read with their child at least twice a week and, during the course of the program, children receive 15 books to add to their personal home libraries. Each student is also paired with a teen who has been trained as a reading mentor, and the pairs meet weekly to practice reading during one-on-one mentoring sessions.

During the 2015-16 academic year, the Foundation operated 15 Teen Trendsetters programs that engaged nearly 300 pairs of teens (mentors) and elementary school students (mentees). Dr. Craig A. Mason, professor of Education and Applied Quantitative Methods from the University of Maine, recently conducted an independent evaluation of these programs, including a comparison study revealing that participating elementary school students showed 61 percent more growth than their peers who did not take part in the program, gaining nearly half a year’s worth of additional reading skills.

During the 2016-17 school year, the Foundation will operate 18 Teen Trendsetters Reading Mentor programs throughout the state. Local systems taking advantage of the program include Lewiston High School and Longley Elementary School in Lewiston; and Mountain Valley Middle School and Meroby Elementary School in Mexico.

The new Teen Trendsetter reading mentors program was initially launched in Maine thanks to a generous gift from the Gorman Foundation. Ongoing support by individuals and partners, including Unum, the Rugged Elegance Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Mike and Robin Shea, allow the Barbara Bush Foundation to offer programs at no cost.



Get in Touch

You may also contact us by phone at 850.562.5300 or by mail at:
Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
516 North Adams Street • Tallahassee, Florida 32301