Birmingham City Schools
Commission AmeriCorps State FY 2011
The service recipients of Birmingham READS (Reading for Excellence Achievement, Development and Success) AmeriCorps are residents of Birmingham, Alabama, where the dropout rate has reached 17% (2008-2009). This city has one of the highest unemployment rates of 11.7% (2009) when The State of Alabama and The United States is 10% and 9.3%, respectively. Birmingham has one of the lowest academic achievement records, in which students continue to score in the 30 and 40 percentiles, when the national average is 50. By combining the resources of AmeriCorps and Birmingham City Schools we will be able to dramatically impact the number of children who can read well and independently by the end of third grade. If students cannot read they will never maximize their academic potential. The mission of Birmingham City Schools is to guide all students to achieve excellence in a safe, secure, and nurturing environment. We will accomplish this mission by providing a professional, dedicated, open -- minded and enthusiastic staff, teaching a challenging, intellectually rigorous and relevant curriculum in an environment that is safe and conducive to learning. The goal of Birmingham READS AmeriCorps is to provide 300 students in Kindergarten-Second grades a highly effective reading intervention opportunity that enriches learning. This mission will be accomplished by providing opportunities for reading practice in a safe, secure, and nurturing environment, while fostering lifelong civic responsibility in AmeriCorps members. Birmingham READS AmeriCorps will utilize the skills of 25 AmeriCorps members at 10 inner-city elementary schools to positively impact children and youth ability to read. READS will expand intervention and prevention programs throughout the City of Birmingham, including operating sites at three schools and one public library within Birmingham's Enterprise Community. During the school day, members will engage in activities designed to expand the reading power of 300 students in Kindergarten-Second Grade. Eighty percent of the students receiving a minimum of twenty hours of service will show improvement in reading. Weekly tutoring logs and Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Learning Skills (DIBELS) pre/post test will be used to track student performance. After-school activities will include homework assistance at the extended-day programs, libraries, faith-based and community centers. Summer activities will include serving as reading partners in Birmingham City Schools' Camp Birmingham, a camp that offers six weeks of structured academic work and recreational activities. Recognized as America's most prolific summer reading program three consecutive summers, Camp Birmingham focuses on keeping kids reading during summer vacation. In addition, members and staff will assist the Parental Involvement Department organizing family literacy programs aimed at keeping parents involved in the academic lives of their children. To prepare the members for service Birmingham READS AmeriCorps members will complete an intense pre-service and continuing education program to ensure that they can successfully impact their service recipients' ability to read well by the end of third grade. In the event of a natural disaster, members will be trained as Certified Emergency Response Team (CERT) team members. This program, which is administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security, educates on disaster preparedness, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. Finally, members will complete fifty hours of non-AmeriCorps related volunteer service in the hopes that they will develop a lifelong commitment to volunteerism and community involvement.