Design, Sites, and Data Sources
This project is designed to address the needs of students in Philadelphia. It also fits into larger citywide initiatives focusing on civic engagement.
Philly Reading Coaches Model
Students participating in the after-school program will meet with volunteers twice a week to engage in one-on-one, 30-minute reading sessions. Volunteer readers will help children choose from a series of “window” books, which teach them about their external world, and “mirror” books, which reflect their own cultural experiences. The focus of the reading time is on making it fun and stimulating children’s interest in reading. To further stimulate an interest in reading, students are given two books per month to take home so that each student can accrue a personal library of books. The MDRC technical assistance team for the project is also exploring strategies to increase parental involvement with the program by encouraging parents to set aside time to read with their children. The intention is that this will both help reinforce children’s reading motivation and establish a practice of reading outside of the volunteer sessions.
Citywide Civic Engagement
In an effort to maintain coordination with other citywide efforts, the MDRC technical assistance team is working with the City of Philadelphia Managing Director’s Office on using civic engagement metrics for the volunteers and ensuring consistency across other city projects. This includes collaborating with Philadelphia Rebuild and the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service.
The timeline for implementing the program is as follows:
Start-up: Provide support to the team as they adapt the SMART model, recruit volunteers, and put systems in place to begin the pilot.
January-June 2018: Pilot the program in three elementary schools with the goal of serving 180 students. Explore other potential out-of-school settings for a full-scale program, through Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
School years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020: Implement the program in 10 to 17 sites with the goal of serving 800 children per year.