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7/11/2006 - Jackson, Miss.

The America Reads-Mississippi Tutors with a Mission AmeriCorps Program will hold an end-of-year graduation luncheon celebration for over 300 AmeriCorps members on Friday, July 14, 2006 from 11 am-1 pm in the Forestry Auditorium at the Mississippi Agriculture Museum, Jackson. Members, school personnel, key partners and other program friends will be honored and receive recognition for their efforts. Media are invited and encouraged to attend.

Founded in 1998, America Reads-Mississippi is the largest AmeriCorps program in the state and the largest of its kind in the nation with 270 full-time reading tutor members serving at 60 schools across Mississippi.  Members tutor students in reading, recruit volunteers and conduct community service projects that meet local needs. The members receive a modest living allowance of $10,900 and a $4,725 education award at the end of their year of service to fund college tuition or to pay back student loans.

The program is federally funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service and from state funds through partnering schools.  Administered by staff at the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, America Reads-Mississippi is implemented in Mississippi’s academically low achieving school districts by staff housed at key partner universities including Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University and Mississippi State University.  Other partners include the Mississippi Department of Education, the Barksdale Reading Institute at the University of Mississippi, the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi Red Cross.  This year, the America Reads-Mississippi AmeriCorps members:

• Served over 459,000 hours;
• Tutored 5,000 students daily (on average) with 62 percent improving in reading by one letter grade, 21 percent by two, 17 percent by more than two, and 95 percent improving in school attitude, behavior, and homework;
• Started 57 Junior Citizen Corps Clubs at school service sites to engage students in volunteerism and to connect the classroom to the world through service learning;
• Conducted 250 local service projects including many hurricane relief efforts;
• Recruited 10,380 volunteers who volunteered 18,757 hours; and
• Earned $1,275,750 in federal AmeriCorps education scholarship dollars.

Seventy-five percent of the Corps want to be certified teachers and, after graduation from college, will ultimately help decrease the teacher shortage in many parts of the state. The program will start its ninth year of operation on August 1 and is fully recruited with a statewide waiting list.  For more information, email America Reads-Mississippi State Director Randee Williams, or call her at 601.432.6380.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.


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