The Literacy Intervention Programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area (BGCP) were first established in 2006 with the implementation of the Harris Literacy Center at the Meyer Boys & Girls Club. Today, there are a total of six (6) Literacy Centers located within Club facilities throughout the Portland metro area, and one (1) pull-out program being operated in partnership with Rosa Parks Elementary School (Portland Public). The Literacy Center programs are available to all Club members ages 6 to 18, and serve an average of 1,800 youth annually providing instruction which emphasizes a multisensory approach to language arts, with the emphasis of keeping all youth engaged in learning and on track for graduation.
In Portland, poverty is the single greatest risk factor impacting a child’s school preparedness, and once enrolled there remain a number of factors that impede their success: 1) 40% of students living in poverty graduate; 2) Students of minority are five times more likely to drop out; and 3) Youth from single parent homes are almost twice as likely to drop out. These contributing factors are realities for the majority of Club members who participate at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland. Four of the six Clubs reside in the poorest and lowest educational achievement areas, experiencing high crime rate, increasing gang activity and drive by shootings that have even taken the lives of Club members. At these Clubs membership consists of as many 90% from low-come families, 84% minorities, and nearly 60% from single parent homes.
Furthermore it is possible to project with better than 80% accuracy that a 3rd grader will later drop out of school based on any of the above factors, as well as reading below grade level, or having to repeat a grade. Having witnessed the academic struggles of our own members, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area recognize that providing research based programs, designed to improve the school achievement of youth at an early age, is critical to their life success. Studies supported by the National Institute of Health show that 74% of children who struggle with reading in the 3rd grade will have reading difficulties in the 9th grade. Therefore, in order to impact the future academic success of youth in Portland, each of BGCP’s Literacy Centers provides a targeted literacy intervention program component designed to address the needs of children at greatest academic risk who are enrolled in 1st through 6th grade.
For the past two years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland tracked outcome measurements for youth in 2nd and 3rd grades only. This was done entirely due to the fact that with the assistance of the University of Oregon, we also performed comparisons of youth at the same grade levels who were not receiving after school instruction. However, in order to further expand the proven results of the program and to demonstrate a broader impact, during the current 2011-2012 program year, the Clubs began tracking all youth participants enrolled in grades 1st through 6th. Final outcome reports for the current program year will be available in the summer of 2012, yet we are encouraged with the outcomes of the 2010-2011 measurements which demonstrated the following achievements among 2nd and 3rd grade youth.
- 2nd grade youth participating in after-school programs showed a median gain of 78% in reading improvement scores.
- 3rd grade youth participating in after-school programs showed a median gain of 55% in reading improvement scores.
- 3rd grade youth participating in the pull-out program showed a median gain of 70% in reading improvement scores.