By Sally Absher

Eight Additional Recipients Receive Read to be Ready Grants for Summer Reading Programs

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd announced that, with support from the Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), the Read to be Ready Summer Grant program will be expanded to reach an additional eight distressed counties.

Read to be Ready summer grants are designed to fund programs that focus on low-income students who experience the greatest summer learning loss. Summer grants are part of a larger coordinated approach to move third grade reading proficiency in Tennessee to 75 percent by 2025. The Read to be Ready campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance of reading, unite efforts to address the reading gap, highlight and implement best practices, and build partnerships.

Twenty-one applicants applied for Read to be Ready summer grants to serve students in what the Appalachian Regional Commission designates as a distressed county, a county that ranks in the bottom 10 percent of the nation’s counties on the basis of low per capita income and high rates of poverty and unemployment. Last month the department of education selected 12 summer reading programs across the state to receive Read to be Ready grants this summer, funded by a $1 million donation from the Dollar General Foundation.

After seeing the statewide response to the department of education’s Read to be Ready summer grant application process earlier this spring, TNECD pledged to fund additional summer programs in Tennessee communities that serve our state’s neediest families. The department of education then carefully reviewed additional programs designed to serve students in distressed counties and selected the following eight programs based on competitive criteria.

  1. Hardeman County Schools, Southwest,
  2. Perry County Schools, South Central,
  3. Wayne County Schools, South Central,
  4. Bledsoe County Schools, Upper Cumberland,
  5. Fentress County Schools, Upper Cumberland,
  6. Grundy County Schools, Southeast,
  7. Oneida Special School District, East, and
  8. Hancock County Schools, First TN

“Currently, only one-third of economically disadvantaged students read proficiently by the end of third grade, but we have a different vision for our students,” Commissioner McQueen said. “This additional funding allows us to reach some of our state’s most underserved children and continue on our path to ensure all Tennessee students are thinkers, problem-solvers, and future leaders of our state.”

“Educational attainment is workforce development, which is economic development,” Commissioner Boyd said. “Early reading skills are critical to educational success. Thus, this program is critical to economic development and nowhere is it more so than in our distressed rural communities. For these reasons, we are happy we are able to support the department of education’s Read to be Ready initiative.”