South Reading Youth Initiative enhances elementary school curriculum
Alvernia University has been awarded $250,000 from Customers Bank to support the South Reading Youth Initiative, an after-school enrichment program run by the university at Millmont Elementary School. Through the Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement, Alvernia faculty, staff and students collaborate with the Reading School District to provide educational enrichment and literacy services to more than 100 elementary students every day.
“We are deeply honored and grateful for the generous support from Customers Bank to fund this transformational, educational program,” said Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn. “Now in its 11th year, the South Reading Youth Initiative has served hundreds of children in Reading, supporting a continuous pathway of success from elementary school to high school to college and to rewarding careers. It is especially rewarding now to have long-ago SRYI students enrolled in good academic standing as college students at Alvernia!”
Designed to enhance the established school curriculum, the South Reading Youth Initiative offers elementary school students literacy training, homework assistance, academic enrichment activities and mentoring programs. The South Reading Youth Initiative also provides annual summer camps and a variety of cultural activities including museum visits, sporting events and educational field trips within the Greater Reading and Philadelphia areas. The program serves students from Millmont, Tyson-Schoener Elementary School and St. Peter School, where the program first launched.
“As a community bank, our goal is to not only provide loans to businesses and other enterprises, but also to support measures that help strengthen the framework of the community,” said Richard Ehst, president and chief operating officer for Customers Bank. “By helping students gain access to better educational opportunities and afterschool programs, we hope to contribute to a stronger community and business environment in the long-term.”
The funding from Customers Bank allows Alvernia to expand services to children during the school year and in the summer, add programs for upper elementary and middle school grades and hire professional staff for ongoing support, thus increasing the scale and quality of the program. Customers Bank is funding the Alvernia initiative as part of the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program.
Alvernia students who help run the South Reading Youth Initiative gain real-world learning experiences working directly with children in the program and take advantage of the work-study employment opportunity.
“Programs like SRYI are extremely effective at turning dollars into education: not only do youths benefit from the tutoring, but Alvernia University’s students get work experience while still in school that will help jumpstart their careers,” said Ehst.