Mt. Airy USA announces initiatives to boost literacy, community engagement

 As part of the Park Before Dark series, lots of events will be offered at Mt. Airy's Lovett Park. (Tracie Van Auken/for NewsWorks)

As part of the Park Before Dark series, lots of events will be offered at Mt. Airy's Lovett Park. (Tracie Van Auken/for NewsWorks)

Mt Airy USA is introducing two programs to promote community and learning: Mt. Airy Reads and Park Before Dark.

Mt. Airy Reads was annouced as a two-part initiative. The first part will pair summer reading with the neighborhood’s annual Moonlight Movie series, offering craft activities and special events to go alongside the week’s book-based movie option.

After summer ends, the program will continue through a grant from the Lenfest Foundation. The grant allows five neighborhood schools — Henry, Houston, Day, Emlen and Lingelbach — to work with the Children’s Literacy Initiative, a Philadelphia-based national nonprofit that works with teachers and school leaders to strengthen reading instruction and encourage a school-wide culture of literacy.

“What if we could change the reputation of public education in Philadelphia?” Mt. Airy USA’s Director of Development and Education Partnership Abby Thaker said. “You could have confidence you are sending your kid to a great school.”

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The partnership with the Children’s Literacy Initiative comes on the heels of statistics showing that only 46 percent of students at neighborhood schools are reading at or above grade level.

“The CLI partnership will work with principals and teachers in the school, and if your kid goes to that school, they will benefit from it no matter what because there might be more books or teachers might be trying out a new strategy,” Thaker said.

Along with the literacy initiative, Mt. Airy USA is introducing Park Before Dark on Thursday nights beginning July 9 with a salsa lesson. 

While Lovett Park has been a go-to spot for Moonlight Movies, coordinators wanted to promote the park as a place for families to go during the day.

“We hope the park does become a well-loved, utilized space for the community,” Commercial Corridor Revitalization and Business Asset Manager Jamie Shanker said. “We’re just trying to encourage that.”

The park will be a host to a variety of events, including a gazpacho cook-off, an open mic night, relay races, a boot camp and more.


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