Literacy PENCIL Partners


Focused on Literacy

To build literacy, students need to master phonics, oral language, and content knowledge with the goal of strong comprehension, or understanding, of what they read.  They also need core skills such as alphabet knowledge, fluency, and word reading. Students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who had developed those skills. Dropping out of high school has major long-term implications for these students’ financial well-being and health, as well as societal costs. Recognizing its reading and literacy challenges, Tennessee set an ambitious goal to have 75% of Tennessee students reading at proficient or advanced levels by the year 2025. (2016 State Report Card)

Metro Nashville Public Schools PENCIL

3rd Grade Students

66% Reading Below Grade Level

MNPS Reading Clinics

We partner committed volunteers from our PENCIL Partnerships with MNPS high-needs areas to tutor students for 30 minutes a week. PENCIL conducts background checks at no cost to volunteers, MNPS Reading Clinic staff provides training, curriculum, and materials, and works with MNPS reading specialists and teachers to identify the students most in need of tutoring from 26 schools across the district. Volunteers range from college students to business professionals to retirees that, in addition to tutoring, often become trusted mentors for their students. Literacy Partners make an incredible impact on the lives of their students. Our next Literacy Partner could be you!

The Impact

Literacy PENCIL Partners help close the reading achievement gap in Nashville, where 66% of third-graders are not reading at grade level. Vulnerable student groups face even more challenges with 75% of low-income students not reading on grade level. 17.6% of students in MNPS are learning English, the highest percentage in Tennessee. The Literacy Partners programs, and volunteers like you, help these children grow in their reading skills to be on grade level with their peers.  

"As a Literacy Partner, I get to see the difference my volunteer time makes as I watch my student make great strides in reading. At the beginning of the school year, my kindergartner didn't know the names and sounds of all her letters.  After just one semester working with her, she is already able to read some two- and three- letter sight words. It's incredible!"
Emma Tadlock-Goldsmith, Reading Tutor