posted May 14, 2003

CASA Receives Community Foundation Reading Grant

The Children's After School Achievement (CASA) program will be able to do more to help children learn to read thanks to a grant from the Youth Fund of The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area.

The foundation has awarded CASA $2,630 for "We're Growing Readers," a program that will begin Monday, June 16, and run for the duration of CASA's six-week summer session.

"Most of our students come to us below their grade level in reading ability," said Fonda Green, who is executive director of CASA. "Our theme this summer is intended to help them improve their reading and enhance their enthusiasm for reading--to help them develop skills and interests that will make a difference to them for the rest of their lives."

The project reinforces past success. Traditionally, some 87 percent of CASA's students have increased their reading scores after a year in the program.

The CASA program, a community organization based at Hope College, works with at-risk first through fifth grade students, focusing on academic and social development.

CASA runs year-round, providing wellness education, cultural awareness, and academic enrichment to the participating students. The program is intended to improve their academic performance and help them develop healthy, productive lifestyles. CASA's students meet after school twice per week for 1.5 hours per session throughout the school year, and in the mornings during the six-week summer session.

More than 100 children will be participating this summer. "We're Growing Readers" will emphasize reading ability and comprehension by providing opportunities to read and by encouraging the children in their reading, and through related writing and fine arts projects. The grant from the foundation will help fund books and other supplies as well as a culminating visit by an area writer or storyteller.

Established by Marge Rivera Bermann in 1987, CASA was originally administered by Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) and housed at First United Methodist Church. The program moved to Graves Hall at Hope College in 1989.