CPS Energy promotes summer reading with book drive

By on May 16, 2014

Children who don’t read during the summer can lose up to three months of reading progress — and that loss has a cumulative, long-term effect.

To combat this problem, members of the CPS Energy Reading Buddy Program conducted a book drive so that children in the San Antonio Youth Literacy Reading Buddies tutoring program can continue practicing their reading and comprehension skills during the summer.

“At CPS Energy we want to do our part to create a culture of readers,” said Cristina Duarte, CPS Energy’s Reading Buddy Coordinator. “By providing kids with books to read over the summer we are not only encouraging them to read, we are also tapping into their future.”

Reading Buddy Ann Martinez reads with her student at Arnold Elementary.

Reading Buddy Ann Martinez reads with her student at Arnold Elementary.

This is the fourth year CPS Energy has partnered with the San Antonio Youth Literacy program. We started with 16 volunteers at one school; today, the program has grown to 62 employees reading with a total of 75 children at 12 different elementary schools.

The program is very successful. SAYL has found that students who read with their mentors just 30 minutes a week improved their reading skills by an average of 1.5 grade levels.

“I had no idea that just a small amount of my time could make such a huge impact in someone’s life,” said Tyler Briner, who reads to Josie, age 8. “I would recommend this program to anyone who’s looking to give back.”

Employees eagerly supported the book drive, donating 953 books.

Ann Martinez, administrative assistant at the CPS Energy Northwest Service Center, and a reading buddy herself, coordinated the three-week book drive.

”I work for a great company and have great co-workers who dove right in and helped make the book drive a huge success!” said Ann.

Before the end of the school year, each of the 75 Reading Buddy students will receive a fun-filled summer activity backpack filled with a spiral notebook, crayons, activity books and about a dozen books.

Russ Coons presents his Reading Buddy with his summer backpack filled with books and activities.

Russ Coons presents his Reading Buddy with his summer backpack filled with books and activities.

“Everyone at San Antonio Youth Literacy is thrilled that CPS Energy employees collected so many books,” said Christina Martinez-Rodriguez, SAYL executive director. “Having books at home to read over the summer is absolutely crucial in order to avoid the summer slide in reading comprehension.”

The Reading Buddies program is just one of the many ways CPS Energy works to bolster local education. For the past 23 years, CPS Energy and its employee volunteers have helped more than 300 local students attend college, through mentoring programs, internships, summer jobs and more than $615,000 in scholarships. On-going programs include the Student Assistance for Education (SAFE) mentoring and internship program for college bound students, the Inspire U mentoring program for at-risk high school students, and the Students Interested in Technical Education (SITE) program which provides technical skilled training to high school students.

“We understand that well-educated young people are the successful citizens of tomorrow,” said Lori Johnson, Director of Corporate Responsibility. “And we also know that volunteering in the community keeps us connected. That’s a win-win for our employees, our community and the people we serve.”

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