Engineering Better Readers fosters relationships between local engineering firms and low-performing schools to stimulate student reading by offering kid-friendly incentives. The Foundation is pilot-testing Engineering Better Readers – modeled after a successful program in Tuscaloosa, AL – in three cities: Denver, CO; Houston, TX; and Newark, NJ.
In each case, an engineering-firm representative serves as the local champion (LC), working directly with the superintendent of schools or the school board to identify an appropriate school. Elementary schools are targeted because, research shows, children who do not master reading skills by third grade have learning difficulties later and are far more likely to drop out before high-school graduation.
Once the school is chosen, the engineering firm pledges to donate $5,000, $3,500 of which is spent immediately to purchase the initial “reading store” incentives: Wiis, IPods, other electronic “goodies,” sports equipment, nonviolent toys and games, etc. The children “purchase” their favorites throughout the year using points they accumulate by reading library books. The remaining $1,500 is used to replenish the supply of incentives in January. (The Alabama students turned into voracious readers!) A designated school champion (SC), usually the principal, works with the LC to implement and coordinate the school program. (The LC also stays in regular contact with the Foundation.)
Two factors separate Engineering Better Readers from other programs. First, it offers incentives that kids really want. Second, it’s sponsored by engineers. The Foundation believes that far too few engineers are involved in community leadership. Engineering Better Readers encourages them to become involved in an important community activity. Lack of good reading skills is a serious national problem. Engineers are problem solvers; Engineering Better Readers gives them the opportunity to demonstrate that fact.
If you’d like to have your firm considered for post-pilot involvement, click here to communicate with the Foundation’s program director. You can also get involved by making a donation of any size.