Baltimore Reads, Inc. Overview
Baltimore Reads serves a broad constituency. One hundred per cent serviced by Baltimore Reads are low income/working poor earning less than $20,000 annually, almost a third unemployed. With the ability to read and comprehend, Baltimore Reads students are able to re-enter the society and the workforce, with a new confidence and ability to achieve, both personally and professionally. Finding a job, keeping a job and even excelling and moving up on the job, is a proven result to achieving literacy skills. Baltimore Reads monitors the success and achievements of all of its students from passing the GED, to job placement, to simply learning to read for better comprehension, with goal setting, scheduled testing and securing employment.
Since 1990, the Ripken Adult Learning Center annually has welcomed 300 adults for basic literacy and life skills classes. Weekly, daytime and evening classes are available for non-readers through those wanting GED preparation. Students, both walk-ins and those referred from government and social city agencies, enroll in 10 - 12 week sessions. In FY2007, the program targeted and serviced 300 students, 62% of who were 18-35 year old African American males from low to moderate-income families. One hundred percent of clients are low income/working poor with 92% African American, 5% Caucasian, 2% Hispanic and 1% Native American/Alaskan.
The goal in 2008 - 2009, is to reach 500 students by expanding agency services with online options and increasing the number of instruction programs at off site locations. Expanding to sites at neighborhood churches, recreation centers, and libraries, as well as instruction that can be accessed while at home makes the road to literacy more accessible for everyone. Additionally, Baltimore Reads will anchor a new 'Downtown Literacy Link' program, initially designed specifically for non-English speaking workers in the hospitality industry. We hope to expand it to the healthcare sector after we evaluate various performance measures.
The Baltimore Reads Hotline was the first program established at the agency. More than 52,000 calls have been logged from new learners and volunteers. Baltimore Reads' Book Bank has collected and distributed more than 1 million new and gently-used books, annually, to schools, churches, Head Start programs, neighborhood service centers and families. At Books for Kids Day on May 3, 2008, Baltimore Reads received over 18,000 books. The Book Bank is one of the most visible, utilized, and successful Baltimore Reads programs.
Much progress is needed to offset this trend. Thousands of adults read at below a fifth grade level. In some Baltimore neighborhoods, the high school dropout rate exceeds 52%. Baltimore Reads is committed to effective intervention and training to reduce adult illiteracy. Through proven educational programs and partnerships, Baltimore Reads can reduce the number of illiterate adults and young people and instead develop and cultivate knowledgeable and prepared residents more able to be contributing members of society.
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