Award-Winning Y Readers Literacy Program Preps Students for a Better Start of School

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The YMCA of Greater Charlotte’s Y Readers program received national recognition, but states its real reward is student success.

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Studies show the award-winning Y Readers program helps students avoid the typical learning attrition that can occur over the summer.

These same students would have likely lost two and a half months of reading proficiency over the summer (without Y Readers), putting them well behind their peers at the beginning of the school year.

As bus loads of children head back to the books, 527 local first through third graders will start their school year with something they worked all summer to achieve – a better start – thanks to the YMCA of Greater Charlotte’s Y Readers summer literacy program. The Y reports that Y Readers participants gained an average of 3 months or greater in reading proficiency during the 6-week program, a benchmark that has been repeated for nine consecutive summers.

“We consider this a critical outcome to ensure that our students begin the school year better prepared to succeed,” said Amanda Wilkinson, YMCA director of school-age programs. “Typically, these same students would have likely lost two and a half months of reading proficiency over the summer, putting them well behind their peers at the beginning of the school year.”

Using a computer based reading assessment supported by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools(CMS), the Y reports that 86 percent of its participants improved or maintained reading proficiency as a result of the six-week program. Y Readers was held at 10 school sites in partnership with CMS, Lincoln County Schools and Mooresville Graded Schools. The Y employs certified teachers to deliver the program, and more than 200 weekly volunteers also assisted students as reading buddies each day throughout the program.

The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) recently selected Y Readers as a winner of the 2014 Excellence in Summer Learning Award. The annual award recognizes summer programs that demonstrate excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for low-income children and youth. Y Readers was one of three programs chosen from 62 applicants for the 2014 awards.

Y Readers is provided at no cost to participants’ families. Compared to the $8,500 cost for a child to repeat one year of school, Y Readers is provided at only $1,300 per child and is funded by generous donations from individuals and businesses.

For more information about Y Readers please contact Blair Campbell at


About the YMCA of Greater Charlotte

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The YMCA of Greater Charlotte, comprised of 19 Y branches and two resident camps, engages approximately 274,000 men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Deeply rooted in the community for 140 years, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.

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Molly Thompson

Michelle Guinyard
YMCA of Greater Charlotte
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