Camden, New Jersey – Boys & Girls Clubs of America announce the expansion of its reading initiative that promotes both educational and leisure reading for tweens and teens through a $1.15 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. The Bright Spot for Reading initiative will be added to 100 Boys & Girls Clubs across the U.S. to create a dedicated reading center for members.
According to the 2009 Reading Report Card, only 33 percent of fourth graders are reading proficiently and 17 percent of low-income fourth-grade students are reading well. By the eighth grade, the reading proficiency rate drops to 32 percent for all students and 16 percent for low-income eighth-grade students.
The Walmart Foundation previously funded BGCA with $1.4 million for Bright Spot for Reading initiatives at 100 Clubs in the U.S. Since that time, it’s estimated that more than 6,000 young people are actively reading in Bright Spots and 40 percent of Clubs have seen an increase in teen participation. The new $1.15 million grant will expand the Walmart Foundation’s Bright Spot for Reading initiative to include an additional 100 Bright Spots at Clubs across the U.S.
“The Walmart Foundation’s Bright Spot for Reading initiative is essential in motivating our youth to read and preparing them for academic success,” continued Milford Liss, Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of Camden County, “We are grateful to the Walmart Foundation for the opportunity to create an environment that will encourage and allow our youth to enjoy and develop a lifelong love of reading.”
The Bright Spot Reading Centers feature books targeting young people ages 11 to 15; including programs to encourage Boys & Girls Club of Camden County members to read more and develop a positive attitude toward reading. The centers offer activities in drama, art and technology; field trips and service learning projects to integrate reading opportunities into every area of the Club.
In Camden, the Club’s reading center is designed to be a comfortable place for readers of all levels. Club staff members, including Youth Development Director Amanda White, encourage literary discussions. Currently, fifty teens and pre-teens are participating in the program. One of the most popular weekly meetings at the Club is the Bright Spot Book Club. Club members come together to share what they are currently reading, talk about literature they are interested in exploring and listen to excerpts from books or short stories from new authors.
“At Walmart, we believe education is critical to the lives and success of our nation’s youth,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. “We’re proud to provide the opportunity for more teens to use the Bright Spot reading rooms to grow, learn and excel at school, at home and at Clubs across America.”
In addition to the Club’s new Bright Spot Reading Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s teen website www.myclubmylife.com will continue to serve as a resource for the Club to promote the reading initiative; highlight age-appropriate books and book reviews; and encourage tweens and teens to read more and share their reading experiences with others. Boys & Girls Clubs of Camden County is also strengthening existing and develop new relationships with local libraries to enhance its programs and services.
With two Clubhouses in Camden, New Jersey, the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County provides program opportunities for more than 3,000 boys and girls each year. The Club is open Monday-Friday from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. Youngsters interested in joining the Club, learning more about The Walmart Foundation Bright Spot for Reading Initiative or other youth programs can contact Sharnessa Bond at the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County, (856) 963-6490 or visit www.begreatcamden.org.