DELRAY BEACH, FL – In response to a recent Palm Beach County Schools report showing nearly two-thirds of 3rd-graders in Delray Beach public schools are failing in reading, Milagro Center has launched an emergency fundraising initiative entitled “CODE READ,” which will help the underserved students in its afterschool and summer camp programs to improve their skills and achieve grade level reading.

According to the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST) assessment results published by the Florida Department of Education, the six local public elementary schools averaged a 65% failure rate in reading.

“These statistics are alarming, especially for the children we serve, all of whom come from families that live below the federal poverty line,” said Barbara Stark, President and CEO of Milagro Center.  “Advancing from third to fourth grade is a critical marker for academic success. Falling short of that, students are four times more likely to drop out of high school, lowering their earning power as adults and possibly costing society in welfare.”

To prevent such outcomes, Milagro Center will engage primary school teachers who specialize in intensive reading remediation, not just during the school year, but also during the organization’s full 10-week summer camp program.

“We are conducting assessments for each student and providing one-on-one instruction to address their unique needs as well as teaching materials and program supplies,” said Stark. “Providing this assistance all year round gives every student a fighting chance to get on track and overcome these challenges.”

This is not the first time Milagro Center has faced a crisis in the local public schools. In 2020, in the wake of Covid-19, the organization took measures to respond to severe drops in both reading and math scores at all grade levels.

“We doubled down then on improving math and reading scores in order to maintain the high standards that we’ve set for our students. And that’s nothing short of a hundred percent graduation for our high school seniors and a hundred percent advancement for our third graders to fourth grade,” said Stark. “Fortunately, we were able to hit the mark in both cases.”

Through the CODE READ initiative, Milagro Center is asking for donations ranging from $45 for one teaching session to $2,340 for one full year of remediation for one student.

“It has been said that ‘Up to third grade, a student learns to read. And, after that, a student must read to learn,” Stark said. “Recognizing the challenges our local public schools face, Milagro Center’s reading intervention program will support our schools and focus on the most at-risk students to help them succeed in reading and stay ahead in school.”

“This truly could be the difference between a life of struggle or a life of success,” she said.

For more information about Milagro Center’s CODE READ Initiative, visit milagrocenter.org/code-read or call 561-279-2970.