A student works on building her literacy skills with the support of a tutor at a Reading Partners reading center.

Chemonics News

News: Chemonics and Reading Partners Bring High-Quality Literacy Tutoring to D.C. Elementary Schools

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Chemonics International and Reading Partners are pleased to announce their partnership for the 2020–2021 school year, bringing high-quality literacy tutoring to elementary schools in Washington, D.C.

Icon of book and three pencilsChemonics International and Reading Partners are pleased to announce their partnership for the 2020–2021 school year. Through the partnership, select Chemonics employees are dedicating up to two hours weekly to tutor students from five Washington, D.C. elementary schools at each student’s precise instructional level as part of Reading Partners’ proven literacy program.

Chemonics and Reading Partners began their official collaboration in the DC region in early 2020. Programming was paused when COVID-19 struck in March. In October, tutor programming resumed with Reading Partners’ launching “Reading Partners Connects,” an online literacy tutoring program, with the help of Chemonics’ volunteers and financial support. In 2021, Chemonics’ sponsorship supports a virtual reading center for Van Ness Elementary School, where Reading Partners engages 33 children in weekly literacy instruction and provides ongoing support to their parents and caregivers.

A Reading Partners student greets her tutor as her 45-min virtual tutoring session is about to begin.

When schools reopen, “The Chemonics International Reading Center” at Van Ness, operated by Reading Partners, will coordinate and coach tutors to teach at the right level; provide award-winning, diverse, and inclusive teaching and learning materials; and ensure that community members who tutor are equipped to be socially, emotionally, and culturally responsive to the children they partner with.

“We are thrilled to have Chemonics as a reading partner sponsor at Van Ness Elementary School in Ward 6,” said Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan, executive director of Reading Partners D.C. “Their investment will allow us to provide students with high-quality, one-on-one literacy tutoring.”

As “reading partners,” Chemonics staff tutor students from schools in D.C.’s Wards 1, 4, 6, 7, and 8, offering Chemonics an opportunity to engage meaningfully with its Washington, D.C., community. Chemonics’ staff also have the opportunity to participate in an in-house eight-week training program. The training connects their practical experience — participating in a literacy program that teaches at the right level with social and emotional responsiveness — with evidence-based practices that are adapted and implemented in similar early-grade reading projects overseas.

“Through this opportunity, both elementary students and Chemonics staff get the chance to enrich and learn from one another,” said Audrey Spencer, Global Practice Lead for Chemonics’ Education and Youth Practice. “I’m proud to see my Chemonics colleagues bring the same passion and talent they bring to solving global challenges by making meaningful connections with the local community and meeting a real need to strengthen early-grade literacy here in Washington, D.C.”

In D.C., just 19 percent of fourth-graders who are eligible for the National School Lunch Program were meeting grade-level reading standards in 2019. Reading Partners recognizes that the teaching loss — the lost instructional time that students have endured during the pandemic — is a critical issue. Reading Partners Connects offers a way for students to accelerate learning they missed, as well build as confidence to succeed. Developing the literacy skills to read on grade level enables students to have a more equitable chance to succeed in school and in future careers.

Reading Partners collaborates with teachers and principals at 19 Title I public elementary schools to identify students who are reading behind grade level and connect them with a community volunteer for personalized virtual literacy instruction. Students and tutors work in pairs for 45 minutes twice weekly on Zoom, following an instructional reading plan that is tailored to each student’s needs and strengths. One of Reading Partners’ objectives is that 92 percent of students in grades K-2 will master key foundational reading skills to read at grade level by the end of the school year.

“We believe in the power of educational equity to interrupt systemic racism, poverty, and social inequality, and that literacy is a fundamental right for every community member,” said Davita Louie, external relations director of Reading Partners D.C. With this partnership, Chemonics hopes that staff can apply what they learn from Reading Partners about this critical community skill to create a positive effect across all the countries Chemonics serves.

A student engages in a virtual tutoring session led by a Reading Partners volunteer.

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A student works on building her literacy skills with the support of a tutor at a Reading Partners reading center.