– Featured speaker Cory Redding; former NFL defensive tackle, University of Texas alum – Redding: “Changing children’s lives is better” than any football play he’s ever had – AmeriCorps members to teach 1,700 children in 26 Title 1 schools to read AUSTIN, TX – SEPTEMBER 4, 2018 For the 25th year in a row, Literacy First welcomed 80 AmeriCorps members to their program in an inspiring ceremony on Tuesday, September 4th at the Thompson Conference Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The ceremony kicked off a week of intense training for the members before they begin providing literacy interventions for 1, 700 K-2nd grade students at 26 high-poverty Austin elementary schools. Speakers included Cory Redding, former NFL defensive tackle and University of Texas alum turned philanthropist; Dr. Jacquie Porter, Statewide Director of Early Education for the Texas Education Agency; Dr. Uri Treisman, Executive Director of the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas and co-founder of Literacy First; and Dr. Mary Ellen Isaacs, Literacy First Director. The speakers emphasized the metamorphosis that the newly minted tutors will soon experience. “In all these glorious moments, I guarantee that not only are you changing the lives of our students, but also your trajectory,” said Dr. Isaacs in opening statements. Literacy First’s mission is no less than community transformation. National studies show that students who cannot read by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Literacy First believes that obtaining early-grade reading skills gives all children the ability and vision to reach their full potential. Their charge is to bring these children up to grade level in reading by third grade, a crucial benchmark in determining success throughout their lives. The experience transforms tutors as well. Literacy First often inspires tutors to take on a lifetime of service in education, while others go on to become leaders in public policy, law, medicine, and social services. About 20% of Literacy First tutors become teachers. The latest cohort of AmeriCorps members will join an elite group of champions for educational equity, bringing their enthusiasm and compassion to one of Austin’s largest full-time AmeriCorps programs, and the longest-running AmeriCorps program in the state of Texas. “Helping these children understand that they belong in the world, you have the enormous privilege of being their guides,” said Dr. Uri Triesman. He then led the auditorium in the AmeriCorps pledge, which ends with a promise to “get things done.”
Founded in 1994, Literacy First (formerly ACE: A Community for Education) provides innovative, research-based bilingual literacy intervention to struggling young readers at high-poverty, public elementary schools. Over the past two decades, our work has engaged more than 1,000 community members as tutors and has impacted over 18,000 Central Texas students. Year after year, approximately 75% of the children who receive one-to-one tutoring from Literacy First either reach grade level or make significant, measurable progress in key early reading skills every year. Literacy First is an outreach program of the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin. The Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin works with our nation’s education systems to ensure that every student leaves school prepared for success in postsecondary education and the contemporary workplace.