AmeriCorps Polk Reads is a reading tutoring program for struggling kindergarten – third grade readers at select schools in Polk County. Our sites for the 2019-2020 school year are Kingsford Elementary, Loughman Oaks Elementary, N. Lakeland Elementary, Lena Vista Elementary, Inwood Elementary, Jesse Keen Elementary, Spook Hill Elementary, Crystal Lake Elementary, Alta Vista Elementary and Stephen’s Elementary.

Our members provide three, 30-minute, one-on-one tutoring sessions per week to over 400 students who are behind in reading. These sessions target the five components of effective reading instruction (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency and reading comprehension strategies) and work to move students up in their reading levels.

AmeriCorps Polk Reads is made possible through a partnership between the Polk Education Foundation, Polk County Public Schools, and Volunteer Florida, Inc., as well as local support from George W. Jenkins Fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation, GiveWell Community Foundation, and proceeds from the PEF’s Stepping Out for Eduation event, Dollar General Literacy Foundation, and other donors.

Volunteer Florida recognized AmeriCorps Polk Reads with its highest award of Program of the Year for the 2018-2019 program year.  Pictured below is Program Director Steve Chapman receiving the award from Volunteer Florida CEO Clay Ingram.

Volunteer Florida giving award to AmeriCorps Polk Reads program direct Steve Chapman

Polk Reads was one of 38 AmeriCorps programs in Florida, making an impact in their community. The Program retained 92.1% (35 out of 38) of its AmeriCorps Members (one of six programs to retain 90% or greater of its members), and of the 446 Kindergarten through Third Grade students that were in its one-on-one reading tutoring program for 15 weeks or longer – 93% of the students met the programs goal. Also, the AmeriCorps Members in partnership with Lake Alfred Elementary engaged close to 100 volunteers in their school Beautification Project.

AmeriCorps Polk Reads Member Spotlight

AmeriCorps Polk Reads member  – Gianna Canestri

  • Number of years as and AmeriCorps member – 1
  • Why have you chosen to serve as a reading tutor with AmeriCorps Polk Reads? Gianna chose to serve as a reading tutor with AmeriCorps Polk Reads because she is passionate about making a difference and encouraging students to be their best.
  • What are your plans with the Segal Education Award that you will earn after successfully completing the program year? At the successful completion of the program year, Gianna will use the Segal Education Award towards her degree in social work.
  • What do you like to do in your spare time? In her spare time, Gianna enjoys spending time with her 3 dogs, box turtle and bearded dragon.

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Contact Information

Steve Chapman
AmeriCorps Polk Reads, Program Director

Office fax number: 863-519-8757