Baltimore Reads, Inc.

Rating: 5 stars   9 reviews

Issues: Education, Job Training

Location: 31 South Calvert Street Fourth Floor Baltimore MD 21202 USA

Mission: Illiteracy in Baltimore City is a crisis for its citizens and its employers. Baltimore Reads stands ready to stem the tide.In 1988, there were almost 250,000 Baltimore City residents without a high school credential. 20 years later, almost 142,350 adults -- 31% of the City''s adult population -- lack a high school diploma or its equivalent. Only 54% of Baltimore City''s students graduate compared with a statewide graduation rate of 85%.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.Our mission is to improve the quality of life for educationally disadvantaged adults and their families. Baltimore Reads provides training in basic reading, writing, mathematics and employment readiness skills including GED preparation and also offers English as a Second Language (ESL) programs for non-native English language speakers. We welcome students at diverse educational and life skill levels.As a local leader in development and implementation of result-based learning services, our programming emphasizes strong reading, communication and basic life skill proficiencies essential for continuous learning, employment and self-sufficiency.
Programs: 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.

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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I had a wonderful and positive experience at Baltimore Reads. This summer I was one of Baltimore Reads' interns. I heard a lot of positive things from a former BRI intern and close friend. I was intrigued and excited to have the opportunity to work with BRI this summer. Everyone at BRI is extremely friendly and caring, which made the atmosphere a great place to work and learn. I was able to hone my skills with letter writing campaigns as well as learn new and valuable skills in grant writing and outreach. I was also able to use my experience in civic engagement and leadership to work independently on a project for students at Baltimore Reads which would empower students to become civically engaged in their communities. Through this project and other smaller projects I was assigned I learned so much about the issue of adult literacy, something that I was not completely aware of. I extremely fortunate to have this experience because it has taught me a lot about the non profit world and given me insight to career opportunities in the future.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

My time with Baltimore Reads has been nothing short of a blessing. Having worked with the non-profit organization over the past several months, I have only become more and more impressed with them. Meeting the dedicated teachers and experiencing the positive energy they radiate in their classrooms has been especially wonderful. Teachers like Michael Dabney, create a safe and supportive learning environment for the students at Baltimore Reads that assists them in achieving both their personal and professional goals. The faculty and staff of Baltimore Reads do so much more than simply instruct their students in subjects ranging from adult literacy to GED Prep to English as a Second Language. They give them the tools to excel in every area in their lives. The offer everything from workshops that deal with resume writing and interview skills to First Aid and Child Care classes. Aside from their instructional programs, I found their mission to spread awareness about the issue of illiteracy and their attempts to combat it by ending the cycle of illiteracy in families incredibly inspiring. They offer children’s programs, literacy parties, and a book bank where children’s books are given away for free. They also offer parent workshops and student assemblies to find new ways for parents to get their child excited about reading. As an extension of my civic literacy class at Loyola University Maryland, I was asked to take a close look at Baltimore Reads and come to my own conclusion about the agency. It was after interviewing one particular staff member, Rachel Dolcine, on the Literacy Garden initiative that really made up my mind about the organization. She talked about how her goals for the garden and her goals for Baltimore Reads students were similar. Her greatest hope for Baltimore Reads students is that they will grow in such a way that allows them to not only sustain themselves but also to better serve their community.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Baltimore Reads is a nonprofit organization that is full of energy and new ideas. I worked with Baltimore Reads through a service learning class at Loyola University. I really enjoyed my interactions with everyone at the organization. Speaking with the students in Mr. Dabney’s GED class and learning about their life experiences helped me to put many of the concepts we read about in my class into the context or real people and real life experiences. Hearing the stories of students who had gone through much of their adult lives without a comprehensive set of literacy skills was eye-opening. It was also a pleasure to work with inspiring people like Rachel Dolcine and Michael Dabney. both of whom had formed clear bonds with Baltimore Reads students. Rachel Dolcine was very open to new ideas for how to promote Baltimore Reads and make a difference. Michael Dabney is also an extremely powerful speaker. Every time he interacted with our class, he had many motivational and inspiring words and it is not difficult to see why the students at Baltimore Reads love Mr. Dabney and Rachel Dolcine.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Baltimore Reads is an excellent organization working hard to fight illiteracy in Baltimore City. With locations all over the city and free classes in basic adult literacy, GED and more, it offers convenient opportunities for people to further their education. But Baltimore Reads' greatest asset is its passionate and dedicated staff and leaders. Rachel is the best kind of idealist, so delighted by enthusiasm and constantly seeking ways to improve and expand Baltimore Reads' programming. Mr. Dabney, one of the teachers, forges strong relationships with his students and shows a sort of quiet excitement and love for his work. I volunteered through my university's service-learning partnership and met some of the students in one of Mr. Dabney's GED classes. Though we were newcomers coming into their classroom, one of the students mentioned to one of my classmates that she knew she could trust us because Mr. Dabney had brought us in, and she trusted him and his judgment. BRI is an organization strong to the core, supported by the passion of all those involved.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

Baltimore Reads goes above and beyond as a literacy program. Not only does this incredible organization offer an array of classes, programs, and workshops to serve individuals at all levels of need, but it also maintains two other sites where literacy is fostered: The Book Bank and Literacy Garden. The Garden is located directly across the street from the St. Ambrose location, and provides fresh herbs and vegetables for its visitors. It is also a lovely spot to relaxingly read a book on a nice day and get some sun. The Book Bank is located downtown, and is set up like a cozy library where you could spend all day sifting through the tons of books they have to offer – completely free for children and at a minimal cost to adults.
Beyond the physical spaces and structured lessons, Baltimore Reads offers another invaluable gift: dedicated staff members and instructors. The men and women working for this organization truly believe in the value of literacy, and enthusiastically share their passions with everyone they encounter. As a service-learning partner with the organization for a semester, I was surprised to see how powerful of an effect this can have. Needless to say, I was moved, and can now clearly understand how they instill a sense of confidence and determination in their students to empower them to reach success.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Without a doubt, Baltimore Reads deserves five stars for their remarkable work as a non-profit, combatting illiteracy. This past semester, I participated in a service-learning course, partnered with Baltimore Reads. The Baltimore Reads' clients and staff members, warmed my heart with unbelievable dedication to the program from both sides of the spectrum. Judging from the positive tone, upbeat attitudes and overall enthusiasm from the staff, clearly, the staff at BRI is passionate about creating a supportive and comfortable environment in which their students will thrive. From the other perspective, I can only imagine how difficult it might be to continue one's education after having dropped out of school. Despite this hurdle, though, the Baltimore Reads clients continue to come to class, day after day, most notably, because they have been inspired to progress by such encouraging teachers.
This organization also goes above and beyond expectations by offering an abundance of extracurricular activities and services that help students succeed. BRI offers transitional services to help clients find jobs, students and staff work on computer literacy, a BRI book bank program promotes the joys of reading to children and adults and the Literacy Garden offers fresh produce and spreads awareness of health and nutrition. If it had not already been exhibited enough through the amazing kindness and commitment shown by the BRI staff, these supplementary programs prove that Baltimore Reads strives for more than GED certificates. Rather, they remain devoted to bettering the entire lives of their students. For their extraordinary work, Baltimore Reads warrants praise.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

Baltimore Reads has a broad reach in Baltimore, with many critical programs serving children and adults. Their book bank provides thousands of children with the resources they need to expand their minds and explore through reading. As a nonprofit professional working with children, I know the importance of inspiring children to read and giving them the tools they need for literacy and academic success. In addition to the Book Bank, Baltimore Reads also prepares adults for further success in life through literacy programs, GED preparation, and employment readiness skills. Baltimore Reads makes a deep impact on thousands of people and organizations in Baltimore.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I worked with Baltimore Reads as a AmeriCorps Volunteer for about a year and fell in love with the mission and passion behind the people who keep it alive daily! They work hard to make a difference in the life of Baltimore City community members in every way. Not only do they help with addressing literacy issues, but they help their clients with everyday issues. From healthy living through the Literacy Garden, or work force development through their Training and Transitions Department. They even make it a point to give away free food and gifts to underpriveldeged famalies through the yearly Holiday Fair at the Book Bank, and community events throughout the year. Baltimore Reads is an outstanding non-profit that touches so many lives everyday, and has made a drastic change in mine as well. They deserve 5 stars and above! Keep up the great work BRI!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Baltimore Reads is an organization that went from rags to riches in my heart. I was not knowledgeable of this organization until some well needed research was done. I have come to know that I made the right choice volunteering my time to this organization post college graduation. I appreciate Baltimore Reads for being there for the surrounding community and helping adults reach for the literacy star! I can say that my time here has been filled with warmth from the staff and the students! I can appreciate that the students enjoy coming to class (not just because they are free), enjoying their teachers, and the joy they experience interacting with everyone else who they come into contact with. They leave their classes with a richer knowledge of what they need in life to continue succeeding. They also leave with higher goals set for themselves and go on to pass their exams. I appreciate the staff’s desire to reach out to all communities within and outside of the area that they serve. I can also say that they change children’s lives and love for reading with the free books they pass out at events and the “open to all” free book bank where families can come to get what their children need or teachers get what their classroom students need to succeed and fall in love with reading. I tip my hat to this non-profit for everything that they do!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Review from Guidestar