The Role of the Business Partner

As the corporate sponsor of a school-business reading partnership, you are making a commitment to become closely involved in a team effort to raise the reading performance of the students in a local school.

Once your company has identified a partner school, your primary role involves providing a dedicated group of employee, volunteers who will agree to work either one-on-one or with a small group of students who need extra help with reading related skills.

It is up to you and the school to choose the best format for pairing volunteers with students. Options include working with students before or after school or during the day as part of the language arts instruction. It isrecommended, based on the Reading by 9 project, that volunteer reading programs take place during the school day and target students in grades one through three.

Volunteers typically spend one hour per week working with a child or small group of children. The program spans four to eight months of the school year.

The time your volunteers spend at the school willsignificantly improve the students' reading interests.Your company will be a catalyst to motivate children to read well and read for fun.

This breakthrough will make students eager for theclassroom instruction that will ultimately advance their reading grade level.

In addition to providing a core group of readingvolunteers, your company will likely identify other ways to help your partner school. As your school-businessrelationship improves, you may provide other services such as sponsoring book giveaways, hosting parent nights and rewarding students who achieve reading success.

Items to consider when identifying a partner school:

  • Proximity. Where is the school located in relation to your main work-site and the commuting patterns of your employees?
  • MSPAP test scores. Elementary schools with low MSPAP third grade reading scores are obvious candidates. (Data available through the MD Dept. of Education, Office of Information Management)
  • Receptiveness. Look for a school that, despite low MSPAP reading scores, appears to be well-managed.
  • Level of involvement. Seek out a school that does not currently benefit from another partnership.

Once you've defined your criteria for selection, there are several resources available that can help you decide:

  • Every local school district in Maryland has a partnership coordinator who specifically facilitates the process of matching businesses with schools who need assistance.
  • Each district's Office of Elementary Education is also a good starting point for referrals and direction.
  • Additional information can be obtained through The Abell Foundation, Baltimore Reads, The Baltimore Sun's Reading by 9 Program and the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education.

Step-by-Step Guide for Getting Started

Step 1: Meet with School Principal & Staff Reading Specialist:

Once you've identified a school that is a good candidate for a reading partnership with your business, the first step is to initiate a meeting with the Principal and the reading specialist who coordinates and administers the reading curriculum for the school.

During the initial meeting you will want to address the following: