Read to Succeed Takes to the Streets of Des Moines

Read to Succeed may be knocking on your door soon, as DMPS volunteers plan to visit 10,000 homes over the next couple of weeks.

Read to Succeed may be knocking on your door soon, as DMPS volunteers aim to visit 10,000 homes over the next couple of weeks.

Read to Succeed is a public awareness campaign undertaken jointly by the United Way of Central Iowa, Everybody Wins Iowa and Des Moines Public Schools to inspire community action and increase reading proficiency among school children. The mission is twofold: 1] Encourage summer reading and 2] Recruit volunteers.

Over the lunch hour on Friday, several volunteers gathered at Capitol View Elementary School to kick-off the grassroots door knocking campaign in support of Read to Succeed. Following a brief pep talk, they took to the streets to canvass the neighborhood surrounding the school to stress the importance of daily reading in the summer activity schedules of kids, especially those in 3rd grade or lower, a category that includes 12,000 DMPS students. As little as 15 minutes daily can add up to a life-changing difference by the time students enter 4th grade. The campaign mantra is that kids learn to read through 3rd grade. After that they must read to learn.

“Our teachers are doing a great job despite many obstacles but they don’t have enough time with some of these kids,” said DMPS Superintendent Tom Ahart to a group of eager volunteers assembled in the Capitol View library, clad in sunshiny yellow t-shirts. “We need the community’s help and today begins a massive effort to engage our community.”

The group of volunteers assembled at Capitol View included DMPS support staff from a range of administrative departments. Besides getting in on the educational side of the district’s business for a change the door-to-door stroll was also a chance to rack up steps in their employee wellness programs.

United Way president Mary Sellers said the goal is to recruit an army of 500 volunteers. More than 100 have signed on since the campaign was announced last month. It’s not just a summer effort, though.

“We are looking for people willing to commit to spending an hour a week with students throughout the school year,” she said.

Connie Boesen, the senior member of the school board, sounded an optimistic note before the group took to the streets. “We printed 10,000 door hangers,” she said. “We’ll be happy to print more.” The initial goal is to knock on at least that many doors districtwide between now and July 2nd.

Go to to become a volunteer and donate time to read with a student. And remember these suggestions if there’s a young student in your household:

  • Make time to read with your child or grandchild every day at home.
  • Take your child to a library or bookstore for reading materials and events.
  • Talk to your child’s teacher to learn how your child is progressing and what his or her interests are.

Currently, 25% of central Iowa third graders do not read proficiently after 3rd grade. The ones who do are four times as likely to graduate from high school.

An Iowa law is currently scheduled to go into effect at the end of the 2016-17 school year that will require 3rd graders who are not proficient in reading to complete a summer program or be held back the following year. Mandated summer programs will be costly to school districts and not nearly as much fun as a daily bedtime read with Dad or a summer outing to the neighborhood branch library with Grandma.

Let’s Read to Succeed now.

Read to Succeed – DMPS-TV News

Photos from Read to Succeed Campaign Kick-Off

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