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7/29/2016 - Jackson, Miss.

Strong reading skills obtained in the early grades lay a foundation for success in the classroom and beyond. Thanks to America Reads-Mississippi (ARM) and funding provided by the Corporation for the National and Community Service (CNCS), hundreds of Mississippi children in grades K-3 will receive extra help improving their reading skills.

The "Tutors with a Mission" are members of the America Reads-Mississippi (ARM) program, a grant-funded initiative beginning its 18th year as part of a literacy-focused national service program. ARM is part of the $3.3 million awarded in AmeriCorps funding to support AmeriCorps members in Mississippi.

"ARM maintains strong partnerships with local schools by ensuring that AmeriCorps members are well-trained and understand and follow AmeriCorps guidelines," said Ronjanett Taylor, ARM State Director. "School partners indicate that ARM tutors are an essential part of making students successful learners."

Eleven non-profit and educational organizations across the state were chosen to receive grants through highly competitive statewide and national selection processes. These organizations were selected for identifying an unmet need in their communities and devising unique ways for those needs to be addressed by AmeriCorps members.

America Reads-Mississippi was established as a national service program in 1998 and will continue to serve students and communities using the grant funds to support 77 full-time and 10 quarter-time AmeriCorps members as reading tutors.

Administered and supported by the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (MCVS) and the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), the program is designed to help improve the reading skills of students, encourage public awareness and support for literacy, and help increase the number of certified teachers in Mississippi. The initiative promotes academic readiness and skill development, which advances IHL's "emphasis on student achievement and on preparing responsible citizens."

The program is distinguished by its consistent, year-long, individualized and cost-effective approach to service during the school day. One-on-one and small group tutoring during the day enables members to review, repeat and practice challenging content with students while it is still fresh on their minds.

ARM "Tutors with a Mission" serve K-3 students in 27 partnering elementary schools and education centers across Mississippi. Full-time members will tutor an average of 16 students per member, reaching approximately 1,232 students each day, with the goal of having students demonstrate growth equal to or greater than what is expected for one year. With a dual focus on student reading improvement and AmeriCorps member development, members are trained for tutoring through a partnership with the Mississippi Department of Education and receive instructional resources through partnering schools and institutions.

In addition to the in-school service, all 87 ARM members will serve in afterschool programs providing homework help and engaging students in community service through planning and implementation of national service days. This year, AmeriCorps members aim to recruit more than 1,740 volunteers to assist with school and community service projects, including the September 11th Day of Remembrance, Make a Difference Day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, Read Across America Day, AmeriCorps Week and Global Youth Service Day.

AmeriCorps engages annually more than 75,000 members in intensive service through nonprofit, faith-based and community organizations at more than 21,000 locations across the country. These members help communities tackle pressing problems while mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they service.
  In addition to the funds provided the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) used to operate the programs, CNCS will also provide up to $1.6 million in education scholarships for the AmeriCorps members funded by these grants to help pay for college, vocational training or repay student loans.

Since 1994, almost one million Americans have earned more than $3 billion in education scholarships. In Mississippi, more than 15,000 Mississippi residents have served more than 30 million hours and qualified for more than $56.3 million in education scholarships.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

ARM is administered and supported by the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (MCVS) and the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). For more information, contact the ARM State Director, Ronjanett Taylor, 601-432-6380 or visit the organization's Web site at americareadsms.org.

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