Reading Partners seeking tutors, donations to reach more students in the Lowcountry

CHARLESTON, SC — With a staggering 22% of Charleston’s third graders not currently reading at grade level, Reading Partners is working hard to enhance literacy skills among children.

“This is not just a statistic; it represents the lives and futures of children in our community,” said Dawn Kahley, Reading Partners’ Development Director, during the annual Reading Partners Books and Breakfast in Charleston. “It is a call to action, a call for change, and a call for empowerment.”

Research continues to demonstrate that poverty plays a large role in whether children develop solid literacy skills during their early years, with children in low-income communities having less access to books from an early age. Research also shows that black and brown students are disproportionally affected by the literacy crisis.

“Reading Partners believes that all children deserve the opportunity to succeed and thrive, and literacy is the foundation they need,” said Dyrell Clark, executive director of Reading Partners South Carolina. “Reading Partners’ award-winning curriculum helps to level the playing field, so that children from all socioeconomic backgrounds can develop a love for reading and excel in academics. We are working towards a brighter future for all Lowcountry students.”

Reading Partners tutors and students get paired up for the year. They work together for one to two hours a week to practice reading and comprehension. This individual support, combined with Reading Partners’ evidence-based curriculum, enables students to become strong readers and lifelong learners.

During the 2022-2023 school year, 528 Lowcountry students received in-person or virtual tutoring from 478 community volunteers. Of those students, 87% met or exceeded their year-end literacy growth goal.

“The literacy crisis disproportionately impacts children in poverty, which creates barriers for children from a young age,” said Emily Swanson, Board Chairwoman of Reading Partners South Carolina. “Reading Partners proactively addresses this with an amazing curriculum and one-on-one tutoring. This personalized attention helps to nurture children’s literacy skills, imagination and confidence. These are lifelong lessons that they will carry with them into the future.”

The Reading Partners program currently spans 11 elementary schools in Charleston and Berkeley counties. Tutoring is offered as a combination of in-school and virtual tutoring by community volunteers and AmeriCorps members. With more funding and tutors, Reading Partners hopes to expand to more schools to positively impact more students.

More than 175 people attended the recent Reading Partners Books and Breakfast event, which was geared to educating and inspiring attendees to volunteer their time, money or support to reach more students.

Charleston’s Poet Laureate Marcus Amaker was the keynote speaker. He encouraged everyone to nurture creativity in all students, sharing how poetry made a profound impact on his life.

Attendees also heard from a mother and son who shared how they benefited from the Reading Partners program. Over the course of one year of tutoring, the student progressed several grade levels in reading abilities, greatly impacting his education and confidence.

“This is the Reading Partners curriculum in action,” Clark said. “When we spend time teaching a child to read, we open up opportunities to them and create a strong foundation for their futures.”

Support Reading Partners today!

Become a Reading Partner: By volunteering just one hour a week, you can help a student with reading challenges and improve their literacy skills. Learn more at

Sponsor a student: A donation of $1,500 supports one student in Reading Partners for the year. This covers the cost of the program, plus books to take home. Contact for more information.

Donate to support the program: Donations go toward buying books, supporting curriculum development, and increasing the number of students that can be reached. Learn more at

Become a corporate sponsor: Reading Partners is seeking corporations, organizations and local businesses to sponsor schools to help expand access to the Reading Partners curriculum. Contact for more information.

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