Second Baptist Church Downtown (2BC) has a long history of action in social justice issues. After sensing there was a desire in the church to make an impact in the downtown community, 2BC decided that education was the path the church should take. An Education Task Force was created to find the best approach and MLK Reads was born. The hope for this program is that not only will it help students at MLK Elementary succeed in their education, but also that it can be used as a model for how any faith community can become a part of active social change.
Reading is an essential part of living a successful life in our world. The educational system is setup up so that students learn the mechanics of how to read from kindergarten through third grade. From fourth grade on, reading is used as a vehicle to teach other subject areas. Yet, in 2009 almost 47% of fourth graders in Central Arkansas were reading below grade level. This means that 47% of fourth graders in Central Arkansas are at a major disadvantage when it comes to their education.
Martin Luther King Junior Elementary sits blocks away from the State Capitol Building in downtown Little Rock, and schools more than 500 students. Late in 2012, 2BC began collaborating with the MLK Elementary to help meet one of its needs, namely students reading below grade level in kindergarten through third grade classes. The impact this program will have on the lives of the students will be immeasurable.
MLK Elementary led training for the tutors using a prescribed curriculum so as to provide targeted intervention. In addition, 2BC will provide reading tutors who will spend, at minimum, one hour a week reading with students who are reading below grade level to help them reach grade level reading standards.
Prevent Summer Slide
Research has shown that kids not educationally engaged over the summer have a tendency to fall behind when the fall semester rolls around. MLK Reads plans to help reduce this "summer slide" by providing two one-week long summer reading camps that will include reading and other fun activities.
Family Impact Interaction
We recognize that kids are not on their own in learning, and the issues of reading below grade level may need more than just tutoring help. In our family impact interaction component, the program will seek to help address or redirect kids within the program who may have a greater need than just a reading tutor.
Arkansas Children's Hospital, who has already been a long-time ally of MLK Elementary, has joined forces with 2BC by providing much needed tutors. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, who started a campaign for grade level reading, has now become an active funder of the MLK Reads program. As more people in our community hear about the journey, we hope they will be encouraged to join us in making this positive impact.