Press release from Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe:
When social justice champion, Isaac Coleman, and a group of community activists started Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe (R2S) in 2009, their goal was to close the stark literacy achievement gap between Black and white students in Asheville City Schools. Over ten years
later, R2S continues the work of supporting local K-3rd grade students in both Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools in achieving grade-level reading proficiency.
In July 2020, a significant $84,000 3-year grant named for Coleman, who passed away in 2016, was awarded to R2S to power new community partnerships dedicated to equitable opportunities for literacy in Asheville. The award, part of the larger Isaac Coleman Economic Community Investment plan managed by Buncombe County, was one of 5 issued for the fiscal year 2021, totaling $500,000.
“The racial achievement gaps in our local schools are some of the highest in the nation and Read to Succeed is committed to addressing this inequity,” said Ann Flynn, Executive Director of R2S. “We know literacy is a cornerstone of opportunity. We are using this strategic grant to collaborate and partner with equity-driven community organizations to further the work Isaac Coleman and others started over a decade ago.”
One of those partnerships will be with Youthful HAND, an afterschool and academic summer program for PreK-5th graders located at the Hillcrest Community Center and directed by Elinor Earle. In addition to supporting Youthful HAND by supplying digital devices students can use as part of their remote learning, the grant also enables R2S to provide academic programming and literacy support to students and their families in the Hillcrest, Pisgah View, and Deaverview communities.
“The laptops, tutors, literacy materials, and other resources the Isaac Coleman grant provides will go a long way towards equipping students with the tools they need for virtual learning,” said Earle. “And in partnership with Read to Succeed, I know we can bring our young students who are not yet reading at grade-level up to where they need to be to succeed in school.”
Buncombe County Director of Strategic Partnerships, Rachael Nygaard, shared, “The Isaac Coleman Economic Community Investment Grant calls for targeted investments toward eliminating racial disparities and championing equitable opportunity. The review team was impressed with Read to Succeed’s equitable and community-driven approach to increasing literacy, and the Board of Commissioners was pleased to award the grant.”
About Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe
Founded in 2009, Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to closing the literacy achievement gap in our local schools. Our highly-trained volunteer tutors provide one-to-one instruction from kindergarten through the completion of third grade to support students in achieving grade-level reading proficiency. In the 2019 – 2020 school year, Read to Succeed served 228 students.