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November 25, 2019

Grow Financial Serves Youth at YMCA READS!

Helping children read is our goal, and this year the Grow Financial Foundation is proud to have expanded its volunteering efforts with the YMCA READS! program to a second Tampa Bay area elementary school. For the 2019-2020 school year we are now helping students at Twin Lakes Elementary School as well as Sulphur Springs K-8 Community School.

Khenh Vong, a Grow Foundation board member and regular volunteer with YMCA READS!, was instrumental in helping to increase our volunteering commitment.

“I love the YMCA READS! program and what it means to our community,” Vong said. “They say knowledge is power and at the root of that is literacy. These students are not only developing reading skills through the program, they are gaining confidence and self-esteem because your ability to read affects your communication and how you relate to the world.”

The YMCA READS! program, coordinated by Ali Hollenbeck, is a literacy and mentoring initiative that targets kindergarten through third-grade students and has worked to bring more than 700 Hillsborough County students up to their appropriate reading grade level since its inception in 2015.

“Volunteers are critical to the success of the YMCA READS! program. Since March 2018, Grow team members have volunteered over 140 hours to the program, and the donations from the Grow Foundation help ensure that we have updated books and curriculum materials which allow us to continue closing the gap in students’ reading performance,” Hollenbeck said.

The impact this program has had on Hillsborough County students at Pizzo Elementary, Sulphur Springs Community School and Twin Lakes Elementary is just amazing.

“In the 2018-2019 school year, 94% of students enrolled in Tampa YMCA READS! programs improved their reading skills as determined by initial and final i-Ready tests. This is a 6% increase over program results the previous school year,” Hollenbeck shared.

If you’re looking for a way to give back, you can help teach a child to read and increase the success of the program by volunteering just two hours a week. Learn more about the YMCA READS! program hosted by the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA.


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