Skip To Content

News Releases

SpelREADS Helps Atlanta Public School Students Improve Reading Skills Share a Spelman College Press Release

For Immediate Release 

Media Contact: 
Jazmyn Burton 
Twitter: @spelmanmedia

(ATLANTA  - Jan. 21, 2020) Since its inception three years ago, SpelREADS, a literacy program supported by Spelman's Bonner Office of Civic Engagement, has successfully improved the reading assessment scores of the students it serves.  

To achieve these outcomes, Spelman’s cohort of 150 student tutors from various disciplines volunteer their time to work one-on-one with local school children.

"Each Spelman student who participates in SpelREADS is reaching back and extending a hand to the generation behind her, giving each of the students they tutor the courage and confidence, quite literally, to find their voice," said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., Spelman College president. "It is powerful to watch our Spelmanites change these young lives." 
In addition to hands-on support, students use a digital literacy tool called BookNook, which pairs literacy lessons with technology.

“Every important social issue is impacted by low literacy,” said Jilo Tisdale, director of the Bonner Office of Civic Engagement. “When students progress from one grade to another without a strong foundation in reading, they’re less likely to succeed as adults.”

Student tutors are set to return to elementary and middle school classrooms in the Atlanta Public Schools' Booker T. Washington High School Cluster to begin their spring program in early February.

To date, Spelman students have served as reading guides to more than 150 elementary and middle school students.

Studies show that a strong foundation in literacy plays a significant role in the educational success of students. In addition, the effective use of digital literacy skills also play a major role in nonverbal communication.

The program achieved its highest gains during the 2018-2019 school year among members of the seventh-grade class, who scored 20 percent higher than those who were not enrolled in the program.

According to Tisdale, SpelREADs is one of Bonner's most popular community programs. “I really think we have something special here,” said Tisdale. “There’s something about the energy that Spelmanites bring. The care and attention they bring to working with APS students is evident in our results.” 

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 57 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 22 for undergraduate teaching and No. 6 for both innovation and social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 13th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and partnerships have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit



Spelman College Events CalendarEvents
Spelman College Academic CalendarAcademic

Contact Us

News Center