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Successful ‘Read To Succeed’ Summer Program Goes Virtual

Monday, June 22, 2020

PHILADEPHIA, PA — (June 22, 2020)The Read to Succeed Summer Program (R2S), a free program with a track record of boosting reading skills among Philadelphia schoolchildren, is going virtual this year. Online sessions will begin on July 6, and the registration deadline for the four-week program has been extended to June 25.

Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes created Read to Succeed in 2012 to engage students who are entering kindergarten through third grade in literacy over the summer months. The program's goals of promoting literacy and preventing the phenomenon known as “summer slide” have been expanded to include countering the "COVID slide," this year's loss of school instruction time to the pandemic. Education leaders are already bracing for a more pronounced "summer slide" this year for students whose schools were shut down to curb the spread of COVID-19 and had a delayed start to virtual instruction.

"We know that students who don't read during the summer risk falling behind,” said Sen. Hughes. “Read to Succeed keeps children engaged during these months at home to measurably improve their reading and analytical skills."

He added: “Children come from very different backgrounds and have very different resources, opportunities and supports outside of school. COVID-19 has forced those differences and disparities to come into vivid view. That’s why Read to Succeed is so critical to many of these children and why this year's efforts are particularly essential given the state of our world.”

Statistics show that 65 percent of School District of Philadelphia third grade students are not reading at grade level. Summertime reading loss accumulates an achievement gap of 18 months by the end of sixth grade. Read to Succeed has made a difference. In the 2019 program, 479 students were registered. Of the 222 students who were tested on the San Diego Quick Assessment before and after the program, 62.7 percent increased their scores, 37.3 remained the same and none regressed.

“As I have said many times before, education is the anchor that opens up the door to success,” said Tobias Harris, star forward for the Philadelphia 76ers and one of the program’s more prominent funders. “And perhaps during these incredible times, this investment in young readers is more important than ever.” Since he signed with the 76ers, Harris’ philanthropic focus has been on promoting literacy and supporting teaching.

This summer's program offers students one-hour group sessions (9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.) each day from Monday through Thursday for four weeks. These live sessions will be recorded for additional viewing on the Read to Succeed website. Week 1 focuses on fluency skills and reading strategies. Week 2 will incorporate math into the readings. Week 3 will include writing skills, and Week 4 will incorporate science. All sessions feature fun and engaging activities for students. Classes are taught by literacy instructors and monitored by literacy specialists and an instructional content leader. Each registered student will receive a kit that includes five books, literacy activities and supplies. There will be contactless drop off  for all students. The classes, via Zoom video, require Internet connection but can also be accessed via smartphones.

Parents may choose to enroll children for some sessions or the entire program at The R2S program will also host virtual Family Literacy Workshops weekly during the summer and monthly during the school year.

“Research has already suggested that by September, many students will have fallen behind where they would have been if they had stayed in classrooms,” said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, President and CEO of The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, which serves as a fiscal manager for Read to Succeed. “Senator Hughes’ program is a big step in helping young students catch up for the fall and beyond.”

Read to Succeed is a Philadelphia nonprofit funded in part by the William Penn Foundation, Waterman II Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation, Tobias Harris and individual donations.



The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia identifies, coordinates and connects philanthropic resources to level the playing field in local public schools. The Fund's partnership with the School District of Philadelphia seeks to promote equity, safety and improved performance.