Philadelphia, (July 13th, 2015) – State Senator Vincent Hughes today kicked off “Read to Succeed,” his annual program that provides students with opportunities to increase their reading skills. Over 500 students have enrolled in intensive reading classes, which are completely free for students. Last summer, over 300 students between 1st and 5th grade participated in Senator Hughes’ summer reading program.

“We know from numerous studies that reading at grade level is critically important,” said Senator Hughes. “About 40% of Philadelphia school students are not reading at grade level. 74 percent of students who don’t read at grade level by the end of third grade have trouble in later grades and often dropout without earning a high school diploma. This program is designed to address this issue and make sure that students are prepared for success throughout life.

“If there is one thing that we can do for our school children, beyond getting the necessary funding so that they can have 21st Century schools, it is to get them to read at grade level. From an academic perspective, it is the most fundamental and most important key to their success, not just in school, but in life,” said Senator Hughes. “Every bit of research shows that when children are reading at grade level by the 4th grade, their academic career soars throughout the rest of their life.”

“Our program is designed to be aggressive and intensive toward that goal,” said Senator Hughes. “The summer is here when many of our children have almost nothing to do, and the teachers are here who are willing to passionately teach our kids. It is so simple and so obvious. Not doing this, is our failure, not that of our children.”

For four weeks, students will participate in free reading classes taught by certified volunteer teachers . “Read to Succeed” has expanded to five schools. The program is in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia, School District of Philadelphia Wills Eye Hospital, Wyncote Foundation, Wells Fargo, Neubauer Family Foundation, Stoneridge Investments, Children’s Literacy Initiative, and the Philadelphia Eagles Youth Partnership.

“I’m grateful to the dozens of sponsors, volunteers, and staff who are making this program possible,” said Senator Hughes. “Together, we are sending a clear message that our community cares about literacy.”

In addition to the reading program, students will also have access to critical services that are vital for academic success. Every participant will receive a free eye exam courtesy of Wills Eye Hospital and two pairs of free glasses. Students will also be served a free breakfast and lunch every day. Families will also be connected with any relevant social services that may be identified as necessary by program volunteers and staff.

“I know that our children need real opportunities to improve their reading skills, especially in July and August where we can also prevent the loss of learning which is commonly called, “the summer slide,” said Senator Hughes. “That’s why I have organized this intensive free reading program for children across Philadelphia.”

Senator Vincent Hughes represents the 7th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County. He is also the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.