Mayor Rawlings-Blake Launches Effort to Improve Third Grade Reading

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Brandon M. Scott
Baltimore City
250 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-3835 - Fax: (410) 576-9425



BALTIMORE, MD. (December 5, 2012) – Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined school leaders, education advocates, students, teachers and volunteers to announce the launch of Third Grade Reads, a new volunteer initiative to improve reading proficiency in students. The initiative combines Baltimore’s Grade Level Reading Campaign and the stepUp! Baltimore program, which leverages the energy of community volunteers to address a critical challenge in the city. “Up to third grade, our students are focused on learning to read so that they can learn and read more in middle and high school,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “Those who cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade are at a disadvantage. Third Grade Reads helps struggling students with one-on-one tutoring that will improve their reading skills and prepare them for a successful future.” According to the Maryland School Assessment, 35% of Baltimore third grade students are not reading proficiently. Third Grade Reads targets 250 kids at four local elementary schools, Edgecombe Circle Elementary, Callaway Elementary, Friendship Academy at Cherry Hill, and Westport Academy, who are reading below proficiency and providing them one-on-one volunteer literacy tutoring two hours a week. The initiative uses an evidence-based tutoring curriculum, measures progress and results, and seeks to have these students achieve a one grade level increase in reading skills on average, after 26 hours of tutoring.

Baltimore’s Grade Level Reading Campaign is a combined effort of the Mayor’s Youth Cabinet and Baltimore’s Coalition for Grade Level Reading, whose members represent diverse local and state government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the philanthropic community. While all these members act as a resource to Baltimore’s Third Grade Reads initiative, Third Grade Reads has three key partners, the Baltimore City Public Schools, the Family League of Baltimore City and Reading Partners.

“Reading Partners is proud to work with the Mayor’s Office to ensure that every student in Baltimore has the skills they need to succeed in school, college, and life,” said Lisa Lazarus of Reading Partners."

The title sponsor for Third Grade Reads is Target, with additional funding from community partners including: the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Abell Foundation, the Shattuck Family Foundation, the Aaron and Lillie Strauss Foundation, and the Wright Family Foundation. Baltimore was recently named an “All America City” by the National Civic League in recognition of its comprehensive plan to bridge the gap between at-risk students and other learners.  The Third Grade Reads initiative represents the civic engagement component of the plan, as it will demonstrate that citizen energy, when channeled towards achieving measurable results, can contribute significantly to the city’s achieving its goal of ensuring more children are proficient readers by the end of third grade.  The stepUP! Baltimore initiative leverages volunteer service as a strategy to address the most pressing challenges in Baltimore’s communities including, drug addiction, vacant lots, and youth violence.  stepUP! Baltimore was developed with support from a Cities of Service Leadership Grant.  Baltimore is one of only twenty cities across the country to be awarded the grant. Thus far, Mayor Rawlings-Blake has launched a number of new and unique volunteer initiatives, including Recovery Corps, Power in Dirt, and the Supper Club. Residents interested in taking part in Third Grade Reads can visit

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