Our Challenge

The need for reading intervention has never been greater. Due to Covid-19 learning disruptions, current early elementary students have never had a normal school year of uninterrupted, in-person learning. As a result, many are now performing two or more grade levels below expectation. Reading Power’s proven program of high-dose tutoring can accelerate reading skills growth and get students back on track.

Reading Power makes a difference!

Reading Power serves children in North Chicago, Waukegan, Zion, Illinois; and Beaufort, South Carolina by providing early literacy interventions to prekindergarten to second grade students.

​Population Served

These communities reflect Reading Power’s mission to offer programs in underserved districts in which less than 50 percent of third grade students meet reading benchmarks.

According to the most recent U.S. Census data, 41.9 percent of North Chicago families with children under the age of five are living below the national poverty level. In Beaufort, the percentage is 22 percent.

Although living in poverty does not cause language impairment in all students, “Children from low-income families have been shown to have limited input, in terms of volubility and quality, when compared to children from wealthier families, and these differences have been linked to delayed language abilities.” (Roseberry-McKibbin, 2012, p. 5)

Population Chart
Student and Teacher

A Brief History of Reading Power

Reading Power, Inc. was founded in 2003 by Mary Jane N. Hender, EdD, a Reading Specialist, and Reverend Dr. Gordon Butcher, a literacy activist, to  provide early intervention and individual attention to those students who were not being served in North Chicago and Zion, Illinois elementary schools. The cornerstone of the program is helping to accelerate children’s literacy learning early, before they have a chance to fail.

Reading Power’s one-to-one first grade tutoring intervention is modeled in part after Project Prevent, a program developed by National-Louis University, and incorporates facets of Reading Recovery, an internationally renowned early intervention literacy program. The kindergarten and 2nd grade tutoring programs were developed by Dr. Hender for the North Chicago elementary schools and adapted for use by volunteer tutors. The prekindergarten program was developed in 2015 by former program director Rebecca Mullen, MSEd, and Dr. Hender.

Improving a child’s reading is a priceless gift – one that continues to give over a lifetime!

Student with Books

“Reading Power is a tremendous program for high-poverty elementary schools. Its focus on early literacy is critical for children who arrive at school already behind. Reading Power’s way of partnering with teachers has resulted in students increasing their confidence in learning and has provided students with mentors who truly care about the child’s progress and achievement.”

Kristi Long, President, United Way of Lake County