The Reading Power Advantage

Reading Power’s highly trained volunteer tutors provide one-to-one literacy instruction during the school day under the guidance of educational professionals. Lesson plans structure each tutoring session and are individualized daily for each student. Each kindergarten through second grade session encompasses reading, writing, and speaking to foster the promise of literacy. The target population for the kindergarten through second grade programs is students scoring below the 25th percentile on universal assessments, thus reading below grade level. This past school year many students started below the 10th percentile.

Reading Power makes a difference!

This year, over 300 Reading Power tutors will work with over 600 students at North Chicago, Zion, Waukegan, Wheeling, and Palatine, IL schools.

​Populations Served

Our work is fueled by a fundamental belief that literacy changes lives and we focus our work on schools which lack the resources many of their students need to succeed. Children from underserved populations face several obstacles to their education before even entering the school doors:

  • The students Reading Power serves are 81% low-income and 88% minority (2022 IL School Report Card).
  • The students live in a book desert. Sixty-one percent of America’s low-income children are growing up in homes without books (Reading Literacy in the United States: Findings from the IEA Reading Literacy Study, 1996).
  • Black and Hispanic households are three to four percentage points less likely than white households to have reliable access to devices, and three to six percentage points less likely to have reliable access to the internet (Pew Research Center).
  • Minority students in kindergarten through second grade are not making as strong of an academic comeback as white students post-pandemic. Therefore, the learning disparity gaps have grown larger than before the pandemic (Amplify, 2022).

Despite these obstacles, Reading Power students develop the resiliency needed to survive difficult situations. Having the one-to-one social and emotional support of Reading Power tutors in their lives cannot be undervalued. This daily interaction gives these students what all children deserve and need. It is a critical component of our program’s success.

Demographic Chart
Child learning with tutor

DEI Statement

At Reading Power, Inc., we believe every child has the right to access and benefit from literacy education, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, ability, socio-economic status, or any other aspect of their identity. We are committed to creating a safe, welcoming, inclusive learning environment that values and respects diversity, promotes equity, and celebrates differences.

2022-2023 Annual Report

Reading Power 2022 Annual Report

Previous Annual Reports

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 tutoring intervention was initially inspired by Reading Recovery over twenty years ago. Our program has evolved to incorporate current research that supports direct phonics instruction. Our program focuses on oral language development and building vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency skills for all students. Because we are an individualized tutoring program, we can differentiate our lessons for our students to provide instruction in their learning styles.

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


Our Schools

North Chicago, IL

3131 Sheridan Rd
Great Lakes, IL 60088


1811 Morrow Avenue
North Chicago, IL 60088


2100 Green Bay Rd
North Chicago, IL 60064


Waukegan, IL

2230 N McAree Rd
Waukegan, IL


1775 Blanchard Rd.
Waukegan, IL


1721 N McAree Rd
Waukegan, IL 60085


Zion, IL

1910 Gilboa Ave
Zion, IL 60099


Palatine, IL

1021 N Ridgewood Ln
Palatine, IL 60067


Wheeling, IL

515 E Merle Ln
Wheeling, IL 60090


133 Wille Ave
Wheeling, IL 60090