Since 2007, READ: Hope in Action has given elementary school children, particularly those in poorer, urban areas, the chance to dream about their futures.
The program blends a unique partnership between The Wallace Center staff, RIT Athletes, and John Williams Elementary School No. 5 in Rochester with The Wallace Center’s resources to promote literacy and academic success in its surrounding community. Basketball athlete, Jessica Kramer, was hooked the first time she participated. After 3-1/2 years of involvement, she says, “School Number Five and those kids mean the world to me. I have the honor of watching the children grow, have built a strong relationship with their teacher, and have developed a life-long friendship with Kari Horowicz, RIT librarian and program coordinator.” Jessica is a positive role model for the students and encourages them to imagine the possibility of a college education. As she has learned, many of the students never realized college was an option. “As I head to grad school, because of School Number Five, I definitely plan to volunteer and continue making a difference in someone’s life!” In addition to weekly mentoring visits, the READ: Hope in Action program also includes an annual visit to the school where staff and athletes read the book Amazing Tigers to the first graders. Each child receives a copy of the book to take home to encourage further reading. In the spring, the sixth graders visit RIT’s campus to learn about the college experience.