Debby and Joshua Rales of the RFI Foundation in Bethesda have pledged $270,000 over the next three years to help expand the Reading Together tutorial program to teach reading skills to second grade students in the 56 public elementary schools with the highest level of poverty in Montgomery County.
The major private grant, made in honor of Joshua Rales’ late mother, Ruth, will underwrite the acquisition of materials and other components of the reading program as it expands to help at least 840 identified second graders in the 56 targeted schools. The program is designed to help children who need additional assistance in attaining the reading fluency and competency skills necessary to achieve standards for reading proficiency.
“More needs to be done to make the American dream of equal education for all a reality,” said Joshua Rales in a letter yesterday to Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, pledging the donation. “We believe the expansion of the Reading Together tutorial program, originally developed and successfully applied in Israel, is an appropriate next step to raise the bar here in Montgomery County.”
Plans Include Expansion to 56 Schools
The Reading Together tutorial program is currently being used in 30 county schools. The goal is to include all 56 of the targeted elementary schools and serve at least 840 children in Grade 2, with an average of about 15 students per school. The program is based on a model originated in Israel that provides one-to-one tutorial assistance for individual children.
The expanded program, which will be known as the "Ruth Rales Tutorial Initiative," will be part of a collaboration with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services in the identification and recruitment of tutors and other volunteers, including parents, who will work directly with the children.
“An increasing number of young children in the county begin school lagging behind their peers in basic literacy skills and, without proper intervention, will never catch up,” said Rales. “We believe it is more critical than ever to address this problem successfully so that children can attain at least the basic skills necessary to participate in a competitive global economy.”
A summary description of the expanded program and the donation letter from the RFI Foundation are available at the links below.