PENCIL recruits, trains, and places community volunteers with public elementary schools, where they mentor students by working on reading skills and comprehension. Volunteers commit to meeting with one student for 30 minutes a week for a full semester to establish a meaningful relationship.
As part of the program, PENCIL conducts background checks at no cost to volunteers, provides training, and works with MNPS to identify students most likely to benefit from mentoring.
Students not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers with sufficiently developed reading skills. Dropping out of high school has major long-term implications for these students’ financial well-being and health, as well as societal costs. Recognizing these challenges, the state of Tennessee has set an ambitious but achievable goal – 75% of Tennessee students will be reading at proficient or advanced levels by the year 2025. (2016 State Report Card)
PENCIL Reading Partners are working to impact and help close the reading achievement gap right here in Nashville, where a shocking 72% of third-graders are not reading at grade level.