Through the success of Literacy programs which have been offered by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland (BGCP), it was apparent that the need to expand literacy efforts to each of the six Club sites located throughout the Portland metro area was essential to the youth we serve. Expanding the Literacy Centers to a total of six locations would provide support to as many as 900 youth across the Portland area. Furthermore, due to the early success of the programs, BGCP had received a commitment from the University of Oregon’s Center for Teaching and Learning to complete a two year longitudinal study of the literacy programs at the time that such an expansion occurred.
Expanding to a total of six locations would require the following:
• Hiring of additional staff to operate the centers and provide instructional support to youth
• Six weeks of certification training for each of the new literacy instructors
• The purchase of new computers for both youth participants and staff use
• The purchase of researched software programs designed to support youth with dyslexia and struggling readers
• The purchase of curriculum, materials and furniture and fixtures to outfit each of the six locations
By August 2009, and with the support of caring donors, BGCP had successfully accomplished and put into place, all the necessary requirements for the expansion of literacy programs. And in September 2009, BGCP began operating literacy intervention programs at each of the following locations, serving a combined total of nearly 900 youth on a weekly basis who are most at risk of academic failure.
• Meyer Boys & Girls Club, Inner Southeast, Sellwood
• Blazers Boys & Girls Club, Northeast Portland
• Inukai Boys & Girls Club, Hillsboro
• Regence Boys & Girls Club, North Portland – Rosa Parks Elementary School
• Wattles Boys & Girls Club, South East, Lents
• Jack, Will and Rob Boys & Girls Club, Camas, WA
In October 2009, the staff of the Center for Teaching and Learning from the University of Oregon, led by Dr. Edward Kame’enui, Former US Commissioner on Special Education and Research and current Dean Knight Professor at U of O, began a two-year assessment of the Literacy Centers. The purpose of this longitudinal study is to examine the feasibility of the intervention being provided in these Literacy Centers and the effects of the “reading and literacy program” on student learning.
The intervention is being implemented and evaluated at each of the six Boys & Girls Club sites in Portland over a 2-year period (2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years). This two-year evaluation involves a pre-test/post-test design of participants, using standardized, nationally proven, testing methods. The evaluation, which is currently nearing it's midway mark, will will make comparisons of youth participating in BGCP's literacy intervention programs to groups of students who only received literacy instruction in classrooms throughout Oregon and across the United States. These comparisons will allow the University of Oregon to examine trends that indicate the reading gains of participants involved in the BGCP intervention programs compared to students throughout Oregon and across the U.S.
Additionally, the University of Oregon team has trained BGCP Literacy Center staff in the proper administration of the standardized testing methods for the purpose of ongoing (i.e. monthly) evaluation of students throughout the 2 year period. The first progress report outlining measures from the 2009-2010 school year will be released in the fall of 2010, with the final technical report scheduled to be released in the fall of 2011.
As a direct result of investments from valued donors, during the winter of 2009-2010 each of the six Literacy Centers were equipped with brand new workstations and essential software programs specifically designed to assist struggling readers and youth with dyslexia, including desktop scanners (used in conjunction with software programs). Each of these tools has enriched the literacy programs enabling BGCP to implement a best practice model which more effectively engages youth in the learning process.
The expansion of Literacy Centers has impacted BGCP as an organization in many ways. Our quest for literacy for each and every child we serve has expanded our physical reach to combat this important issue, it has developed many key partnerships with experts in the field of education and learning differences on a local and national level, and it has helped to raise the awareness of an issue that extends far beyond the boundaries of Portland. Yet, most importantly it has enabled BGCP to impact the lives of youth who truly need such targeted support, strengthening their academic and life success, improving their self-esteem and to bring them hope—we see the difference in their faces each and every day.
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Executive Development Officer