The Reading Partnership Story...
The Reading Partnership started as Neighborhood Trust project at the East Scarborough Storefront, and received seed funding through a United Way Resident Action Grant in January 2012. The Reading Partnership team successfully piloted the first installment of the Reading Partnership for Parents program in the Kingston-Galloway Orton Park (KGO) community in April 2012, with the modest goal of guiding and supporting 100 parents through the process of teaching their children to read by 2014. The Reading Partnership joined The Base, a project of Tides Canada Initiatives in December 2012, which provides a strong administrative back- end and charitable infrastructure, and access to coaching and management support.
Driven by a spirit of innovation and collaboration, our delivery model continues to evolve and currently includes the annual Spotlight on Literacy Forum and the RPP In -School program which was piloted in April 2013. We are currently in the production stage of the Laidlaw funded digital media piece called, Exploring the KGO Literacy Landscape. We want to build on the short piece to create an extended version that captures the story of a community in need of various forms of literacy intervention programs. It will focus on the lives of residents, and the impact of the cycle of poverty and low-literacy in communities.
The initiative is currently run through the collaborative efforts of over 35 volunteers and 10 partnering agencies supporting the program in various ways. We have put partnerships at the centre of our model to expand and deepen the roots of the program across the community.
A Home Grown Initiative
The Reading Partnership is a resident led initiative that began as a seed planted in the heart and mind of Camesha Cox, Innovator/Managing Director of the initiative. Camesha is an Ontario Certified Teacher who holds a MEd from the University of Toronto, and has been a resident of the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park (KGO) community for 15 years. She taught high-school students functioning at a primary level in Hackeny, London (UK), and successfully implemented a school-wide literacy intervention program in 2010. Returning to Toronto, Camesha was sure that her community could benefit from a similar literacy program and began working on The Reading Partnership.
Camesha put her knowledge and skills together with her commitment to community. She saw the need for a program that valued literacy and developed a love for books and reading in children at the pre-school level. She recognized that the program she developed needed to be for parents too, with a focus on getting them actively involved, especially if they themselves were English-language learners.
The search for the right team to build and develop the idea would have been a daunting process, but Camesha was fortunate to meet Monique Huggins and Lauren Thompson-West, who shared her passion and interest for literacy education, and personal and professional ties to the KGO neighbourhood. Together these three young women, who were all under 30 at the start of the initiative, are making a big difference.