ALBUQUERQUE READS: Big Changes to Chamber Literacy Program in 2020-2021, Same Goals for High-Needs Kids

The Chamber announced this week that it will be adjusting the long-running Albuquerque Reads partnership with Albuquerque Public Schools for the 2020-2021 school year in order to safely and effectively support the literacy development of kindergarten and first grade students from high-needs schools. The need to build literacy skills early in a child’s academic career has not changed, even if the way our city’s kids will be learning has to.

As the COVID-19 pandemic simply will not allow for 300+ volunteer tutors to work with students in-person on their reading skills multiple times per week — the model the program has provided for Title I children in Albuquerque over the past 17 years — the Chamber has developed a program that specifically seeks to enhance the at-home learning experience for the children served by Albuquerque Reads and provide the business community a meaningful opportunity to step in and help our youngest readers and most vulnerable student population.

This school year, Albuquerque Reads will be providing:

  • An at-home library of up to 20 books over the course of the school year for kindergarteners and 1st-graders at Albuquerque Reads locations (Whittier, Bel-Air, and Atrisco Heritage Elementary Schools). This has long been a key component of the program, and with children having to spend more time outside of the classroom, building a library of age-appropriate books in their home is even more critical to their literacy growth.
  • “lap desk” at the beginning of the school year to every kindergartener and 1st grader at ABQ Reads schools. Unfortunately, it is often the case that Title I students do not have a designated workspace from which to complete their schoolwork in their homes. Desks are often non-existent, and tables are frequently in use for other purposes. Given that a significant portion of APS student learning will likely have to take place at home this year, providing each child with a lap desk will give them a firm surface from which to work – and a desk of their very own – that is mobile and usable throughout their house. 
  • virtual library of “read-aloud” videos that will feature Albuquerque business leaders reading books for kindergarten and 1st grade students; the videos will be hosted on the APS YouTube page and promoted on the APS and Chamber websites, and the books that will be read will be selected by APS teachers and align with the district’s curriculum. Research indicates there are significant positive benefits to a child’s literacy development of being read to regularly. This initiative will allow children to be read to outside of the classroom during the school year, so long as they have access to an electronic device and an Internet connection – both of which APS is working to provide to every child. The library will also support teacher instruction and provide a worthwhile activity for them to assign to children when they’re not physically in the school. 

Albuquerque Reads is seeking sponsorships and financial contributions from companies and organizations across the Albuquerque metro area to support this important work. In the past, these contributions have come in the form of monetary donations, purchased or donated books, school supplies, back packs, and other types of gifts.  

To learn more about how you can contribute to keep Albuquerque’s kids learning and reading no matter what the circumstances, please contact Margarita Rodríguez-Corriere at [email protected].

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