WYOMISSING, PA. – Thirty local students are the proud owners of brand-new bikes and helmets this week thanks to Customers Bank, the United Way of Berks County, and the Ready.Set.READ! program.
For the fourth year in a row, Customers Bank sponsored the Books for Bikes challenge, which provides a free bike and helmet to each child who completes 30 of the 40 days, or at least 75 percent, of the Ready.Set.READ! literacy and reading program. Customers Bank presented the bikes and helmets today at the Berks Community Health Center Oakbrook, at 1040 Liggett Avenue, Reading, PA, 19611.
“Education and community service are two fundamental priorities for Customers Bank, and we are proud of all the children’s dedication to learning and accomplishments. Providing new bikes and helmets is an excellent way to show young students that reading comes with rewards,” said Richard Ehst, President and Chief Operating Officer of Customers Bank. “We also want to say a special thanks to Mary Jimenez of the United Way of Berks County for her work with the Ready.Set.READ! program. It is equally important to thank all the parents, guardians, families and volunteers who helped make summer learning a priority for these children. These students will be our future community leaders, and it is important that we come together as a community to help ensure they have a solid educational foundation.”
Ready.Set.READ! is a community-wide initiative of the United Way to improve early grade reading success. The program is designed to support students who are struggling to be proficient readers by securing the involvement of schools, businesses, organizations and volunteers. The initiative also focuses on language and pre-literacy development in younger children. The Books for Bikes program is designed with the main objective of reducing “summer slide,” which occurs when students – especially those in lesser-served neighborhoods – lose up to two and half months’ worth of academic skills during the summer months.
This year’s program ran from June through mid-August and was held in the Berks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU) Head Start classrooms in the Oakbrook Housing Community. The program offered hands-on reading and literacy instruction, as well as access to fun and engaging activities including yoga with Building 7 Yoga; STEM activities with the Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts BSA; STEAM activities conducted by the Reading Public Library; and instruction in literary-inspired drama, dance, painting, and drawing through Barrio Alegria.
Organizations that participated in this year’s Books for Bikes program include the United Way, Reading School District, Reading Housing Authority and Berks Community Health Center. Backpacks and school supplies were also presented to the students by Reading Truck Group.
To learn more about Customers Bank, please visit www.CustomersBank.com.