Book Buddies Program Improves Literacy Among Charleston Youth
Charleston Volunteers for Literacy recently announced that it has selected Andrew Gowdown, an attorney with Rosen, Rosen & Hagood, LLC, to join its Board of Directors. Charleston Volunteers for Literacy’s flagship program, Book Buddies, works to improve literacy problems among elementary students by bringing the students in the five local schools it serves to grade level in reading by the end of the school year.
“The illiteracy problem in South Carolina has reached epidemic proportions. As of 2009, 15% of South Carolina’s residents still could not read, and the state now has the third highest adult illiteracy rate in the nation,” said Gowdown.
Locally the percentage of students meeting or exceeding Charleston County School District growth norms, however, is over 66% higher with the Book Buddies program when compared to first and second graders in other Title I schools.
Gowdown wanted to become involved with a local literacy program with demonstrable outcomes—not just reading to kids, but rather becoming involved in a program in which he could truly impact the lives of the children. “I am committed to reaching out in my own community by giving my time to help children learn to read.”
The Book Buddies program has 180 volunteers and serves 80 students with personalized tutoring. The program is based on phonics and includes repetition, reading a new book, writing, a phonics activity, comprehension and vocabulary. Each child in the program meets twice weekly with the same tutor during the school year. “As a child’s skills improve,” explains Gowdown, “the curriculum is adjusted to help maximize the child’s learning potential.”
As a member of Charleston Volunteers for Literacy Board of Directors, Gowdown will assist the program in creating and implementing a sustainable fundraising model to ensure its financial stability. The majority of the organization’s funding comes from private donations.
Because of the relatively small size of the Charleston Volunteers for Literacy, its board members are more actively involved in the program’s success. “The volunteers who participate in the Book Buddies program are completely devoted to helping improve the literacy of our children in Charleston County,” Gowdown said.
Rosen, Rosen & Hagood, LLC, is a Charleston-based law firm focusing on complex litigation and damages claims in the areas of business and commercial litigation, construction, products liability, medical malpractice, negligence, wrongful death, traumatic brain injury, personal injury, family law, employment, and probate and estate litigation.