Urban League Partners With Schools To Expand Literacy Initatives

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, in collaboration with Hamilton County Schools and the Tennessee Department of Education, has partnered on a new and expanded literacy initiative called Connected Literacy. This free 12-week literacy tutoring program, funded by TDOE, is open to any HCS student in first, second or third grade who is reading below grade level or for those who need additional help to stay on track.

“The department is thrilled to partner with the ULGC and HCS to help families have access to literacy tutoring through the Connected Literacy Tutoring Program,” said Lisa Coons, chief academic officer for the TDOE. “Ensuring that all children can read by the third grade changes lifelong opportunities for children, and we want to ensure that every child has the supports necessary to be successful.”

Through this partnership with the district, HCS will expand its current in-person literacy tutoring through its Summer Reach program, and the Urban League will provide all literacy tutoring in a virtual format.

“Urban League’s partnership with HCS has been integral in supporting our students in first through third grade with literacy tutoring and engaging families with research-based literacy instruction,” said Breckan Duckworth, HCS literacy officer. “The goal was to ensure that the Connected Literacy program allowed parents and guardians to choose the most convenient schedule for their family.”

All tutors are Hamilton County School educators or tutors that have participated in the TDOE’s Early Reading Training. Each 30-minute tutoring session is focused on skill development and uses the Tennessee Foundational Skills Curriculum Supplement. Tutors work one-on-one or in small groups with no more than three students to help assess and accomplish their individual literacy proficiency goals.

“During 2020 and up until now we’ve seen a variety of educational challenges, and many families are still suffering from the impact of the pandemic,” said Candy Johnson, president and CEO of the ULGC. “We believe the Connected Literacy Program will help students who may have fallen behind in literacy skills to move toward becoming and remaining proficient readers.”

In addition, the Urban League’s recent State of Black Chattanooga report highlighted the fact that only 36.6 percent of all third grade students in the county were deemed proficient in reading, with further race-based disparities seen across the county. Black students in Hamilton County have the lowest literacy proficiency of only 17.2 percent, followed by a 21.2 percent proficiency rate for Latinx students. The chart below from the SOBC report shows the levels of reading proficiency for black and white students in third grade at each elementary school in Hamilton County. In addition to revealing the overall low levels of proficiency, this chart exposes the steep disparities that exist between black and white students in the county.

“With our organization’s long-standing focus on education, we wanted to be a greater part of the solution, specifically serving families where the most disparities exist,” said Johnson. “Literacy rates correlate to everything from economic opportunity, better nutrition and overall better life outcomes; the ULGC aims to aid families in battling illiteracy as part our LEAP afterschool program and our overall mission to enable African Americans, other minorities, and disadvantaged persons to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.”

The Connected Literacy program launched in March as part of a Literacy-themed Family Engagement Night, and parents and students from across the community attended the event. HCS and TDOE representatives shared about the importance of literacy proficiency. Greg Funderburg, WTVC News Channel 9 anchor, read his new book, and ULGC provided signed copies for all students in attendance. The Urban League also provided dinner, gave away free books, and a HCS district representative offered tips about literacy.

“This tutoring program is essential for a student’s future success and for families to feel that they have the support they need when they need it most,” said Robin Sturnes, director of Education, Workforce and Family Empowerment for the ULGC.

Registration for the Connected Literacy Program is open for the summer and may be accessed at https://connectedliteracy.tnedu.gov. While there is no registration deadline, families are encouraged to sign up soon, as there are a limited number of spots. There is no documentation required to enroll a student in the program, and the student’s school will work with the parent or guardian through the child’s registration process.

To learn more about the virtual literacy program at the ULGC, please visit www.ulchatt.net, call 756-1762 or email Robin Sturnes at rsturnes@ulchatt.net. For in-person tutoring offered by HCS, please contact Leann Plumlee at plumlee_leann@hcde.org.


Chattanooga State Names Bennett As Vice President For Student Affairs

Student Has "Life-Changing Experience" At GNTC

Chattanooga State TCAT Open House Announced


Chattanooga State Community College has named Dr. Amanda Bennett as vice president for Student Affairs effective July 1. “Dr. Bennett has served admirably as interim vice president for Student ... (click for more)

Joshua Banks looks for the lesson he should learn in his life experiences–good or bad–and how he can use that knowledge for the better. Banks graduated from Georgia Northwestern Technical ... (click for more)

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Chattanooga State Community College has announced its upcoming Career in a Year Open House set for Wednesday, July 20 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. ... (click for more)



Student Scene

Chattanooga State Names Bennett As Vice President For Student Affairs

Chattanooga State Community College has named Dr. Amanda Bennett as vice president for Student Affairs effective July 1. “Dr. Bennett has served admirably as interim vice president for Student Affairs since January 2021 and has done an outstanding job,” stated Dr. Rebecca Ashford, Chattanooga State president. “We conducted a national search, and Dr. Bennett’s experience and accomplishments ... (click for more)

Student Has "Life-Changing Experience" At GNTC

Joshua Banks looks for the lesson he should learn in his life experiences–good or bad–and how he can use that knowledge for the better. Banks graduated from Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) in 2021 with a diploma in Industrial Systems Technology. He’s enrolled in GNTC’s Instrumentation and Controls Technician associate degree program but had to take the spring ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Supt. Robertson Sees "Many Positive Results" In Latest TCAP Data

Hamilton County students scored at or above statewide proficiency levels in more than 64 percent of tested areas during the 2021-22 school year according to district-level TCAP results released by the Tennessee Department of Education on Wednesday morning. Of the 28 content areas tested in grades 3-12, Hamilton County students met or exceeded proficiency scores from the state ... (click for more)

EPA Awards Chattanooga $4.9 Million To Clean Up Polluted Sites

At a press conference at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland site, Environmental Protection Agency officials announced that the federal agency has awarded Chattanooga $4.9 million in funding to tackle brownfields in the city, "helping turn contaminated sites into productive economic opportunities." The funds consist of two $500,000 grants - one for analysis, one for cleanup - and $3.9 ... (click for more)

Opinion

Dangerous Dam At Ketner's Mill Has Claimed Too Many Young Lives

Something must be done about the dangerous low head dam at Ketner’s Mill on the Sequatchie River in Whitwell, Tn. (Marion County). This dam is a dangerous public safety hazard that has claimed the lives of many young people through the years. It seems to me to be grossly negligent for the owner of this dam (which no longer serves any purpose) to continue to allow unknowing ... (click for more)

Uncovering Chattanooga’s Hidden Gem

Missionary Ridge is Chattanooga's "diamond in the rough" that can spearhead a new era in our city's growth. Way back on Nov. 25, 1863, soldiers under the leadership of General Ulysses S. Grant stormed Missionary Ridge and broke the back of the Confederacy. The Battle of Missionary Ridge demonstrated the superior forces of the industrialized North and gave their soldiers a chance ... (click for more)