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United Way provides funding for books, tutoring

The Bartlesville Regional United Way has made a commitment of $15,000 to Bartlesville Education Promise for 3 years – providing a total of $45,000 in funding. The money will be spent on tutoring and books for elementary students.

“This program fits perfectly with the Bartlesville Regional United Way’s focus on education,” CEO and Executive Director Jody Burch said. “This program will allow BPSD to increase the graduation rate by focusing on helping under-performing students achieve better grades.”

Part of the funding is providing tutoring at least two times per week after school at Bartlesville High School in the areas of English, Math and Science. Staff will be available to assist students to understand work in new curriculum. After-school transportation is also provided as needed.

The United Way also provided funding to buy books to send home with struggling elementary school students. Studies have shown that being read to as a child and having books in the home are the two most important indicators of future academic success. A study by Page Ahead, a children’s literacy program, showed that children with books at home are eight times more likely to list reading as one of their favorite activities.

“Since the new Oklahoma law passed that children have to be reading on the third grade level or be held back, literacy is even more important than ever,” Burch said. “These books will provide struggling students with the tools they need to be reading at grade level.”

The purpose of the Bartlesville Education Promise is to provide funds to the Bartlesville Public Schools to enable the provision of additional support to smooth the path for all Bartlesville children to graduate and be ready to go on to college or move successfully into the work force.

Even though Bartlesville Public School District has one of the highest ratings in the state, BPSD is experiencing changing student demographics which create a more challenging school environment.  For example, the percentage of students qualifying for federal poverty aid has almost doubled since 1991 to roughly 50 percent.  BPS also has over 300 students who qualify as English Language Learners and over 300 students who qualify under the federal definition of homelessness.  On average, BPS has 25 students a year drop out of high school contributing to a 90 percent graduation rate.  Compounding these challenges, BPS will receive 17.8 percent less funding then 2009 limiting program opportunities for students.

Bartlesville Education Promise is working to make a difference for these challenged students by providing tutoring and books receiving funding from United Way. In addition, they also hope to raise money to provide transition summer camps for at-risk students, STEM camps, test prep courses for ACT, PSAT, and AP courses and fine arts camps.

“We are happy we are able to partner with Bartlesville Education Promise to fund part of their program,” Burch said. “We look forward to seeing the great results from this program.”