It’s National Reading Month, so it’s the perfect time to highlight a local nonprofit that provides children with the tools and resources that empower them to read. SMART Reading was developed in 1991, led by Governor Neil Goldschmdit, to address children’s reading levels. It formally launched in 1992 with the goal to “positively impact literacy outcomes by providing early reading support, access to books and community engagement in an equitable and inclusive environment for everyone involved.” In the 2021-22 school year, SMART served 1,194 PreK through third-grade students and gave away 15,690 books. 

SMART Reading offers a variety of programs in order to accommodate children’s educational needs. Take a look at the programs: 

Standard SMART – Teachers select student participants they feel would benefit most from the program. Every week for seven months, volunteers read aloud with participating students to help them gain confidence and reading skills. Students read twice a week for 30 minutes, building relationships with two adult volunteers. 

Kindergarten SMART – Serves all students within a kindergarten classroom. Students read one-on-one with a volunteer in a 20-minute block. Each volunteer reads with three students per hour and students choose two books per month to keep.

PreK SMART – Students read one-on-one with volunteers in 15- or 20-minute sessions. Each volunteer reads with three or four students per hour and students choose two books per month to keep.

Out-of-School Time (OST) SMART – One-on-one reading sessions with trained volunteers, plus access to books the children can keep. This expands programming outside of the school day, taking place during afterschool programs, in partnership with community organizations, and during the summer. 

Virtual Programming – A virtual meeting platform with three options to choose from – Virtual SMART, Classroom Read-Alouds, and Pen Pal. 

Reading is a critical skill that gives children the confidence they need to experience a successful future and we are proud to help support their efforts locally. Since 1992, there have been more than 373,000 children served, over 4 million books have been given away and more than 147,000 volunteers have logged 4.5 million hours reading with children across Oregon.

If you’re interested in being a volunteer, reading partner, being a part of the leadership council, or donating find more information here

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