Karma for Cara Microgrants help fund exceptional projects led by youth 18 and under to help complete service projects in their communities. Read about our microgrant recipient Maggy who created “Feed the Reader”, an after school program bringing families together to read and enjoy a hot meal.
?1. How did you become involved with Feed the Reader?
My close childhood friends and I attended neighborhood low-performing public schools since kindergarten. Due to our high test scores and outstanding academic performance, we? were granted scholarships to attend an elite private magnet school. We realized that if it wasn’t for our grades and love for learning, we would be just another statistic in our weak public school system and obtain little opportunities to excel or even afford better education.
2. Why is your work important to you?
In Miami-Dade County, more than 35 percent of students in kindergarten through fifth grade are from economically disadvantaged working families. Of these students, fewer than 50 percent can read at grade level. This struggle to read results from decreased access to books, less time to practice reading and parents who might not be available to read with their children due to long hours at work to make ends meet.
Research from Johns Hopkins Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships shows that learning at home is the No. 1 way to make a difference in a child’s education. If reading at home does not occur, a 300-word-per-hour gap develops between what children from professional families hear versus what children from low-income homes hear. Once a child gets to middle school, that word deficiency can increase greatly, creating a discouraging situation. Thus, Feed the Reader was created. We are giving disadvantaged children at our former school and neighboring communities, an appetite for reading by strengthening literacy skills and providing encouragement in a nurturing, learning environment. Using our mobile learning services, we provide meals to eliminate hunger, mentors to help children read, and books to build home libraries.
In partnership with elementary schools across the Miami-Dade County Public School System, we serve communities by bringing our program into neighborhoods where students need help the most. The parents in our program, due to economic stress, are limited in their ability to provide the time, transportation, energy, or financial resources to help their children overcome academic weaknesses.
Each of our volunteers is assigned to 2-3? children per session, who are grouped by age and reading level. Hot meals precede the tutoring portion of the program so students are able to focus on the lessons rather than on the hunger they often experience. At the end of each weekly session, students receive a few books to expand upon their collections.
3. How did the money from the microgrant help with your project?
The Karma for Cara microgrant assisted us in providing tutoring, meals, and supplies at all our sites. Tutoring including supporting our volunteers through orientation and mentorship; meals are well-balanced made from the freshest ingredient, non-GMO, and organic; and learning supplies included book bags, learning manipulatives, and books.
4. What message of giving back do you have for others?
We adopted a quote by Fredrick Douglas, ‘Once you learn to read, you will forever be free”. We wish to give back to a community who gave us plenty and enable children to gain that same freedom by improving their reading abilities to position them for more opportunities throughout their lives.