Five Things You May Not Know About SMART

by Gayle Gilham on November 5, 2018

in Featured Member


This nonprofit’s vision is an Oregon where every child can read and is empowered to succeed. Did you know…

  1. In 1991, a group of concerned business leaders came together to address the troublesome reality that Oregon’s children were routinely reading below grade level. As a result, the SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) program was launched in 1992.
  2. Over the years, SMART has steadily grown to become the state’s largest volunteer-driven nonprofit organization devoted to children’s literacy. Their proven model engages community volunteers to read one-on-one with pre-K through third-grade children for one hour per week during the school year, exhibiting the joy of reading, while supporting the child’s efforts to read independently. Students also receive up to 14 new books to take home and keep each year.
  3. SMART has now served more than 211,000 children and given away over 2.5 million books. More than 134,000 volunteers have logged over 4.2 million hours reading with children across the state.
  4. In 2016-17 SMART celebrated its 25th anniversary with the release of the publication Oregon Reads Aloud, a collection of 25 read-aloud stories written and illustrated by Oregon authors and illustrators.
  5. SMART invites individuals – volunteers, educators, parents and former students – to share their stories. Here’s what one student had to say: “I was an early reader, but standardized tests in third grade brought to my teacher’s attention that I wasn’t comprehending the way I should. Mrs. Jordan worked with me for an hour a week, and by the third grade, I was reading at an eleventh grade level. I’m living proof that one person can make a huge difference in a child’s ability to read and learn.”

Cascade is proud to showcase SMART. This year the program will serve more than 11,000 kids, taking more than 5,000 volunteers across the State to make it happen. SMART is currently recruiting volunteers to donate an hour of time a week to ignite a love of reading and books in children throughout Oregon’s communities. If this is where you would like to spend the best hour of your week volunteering to make a difference, sign up here:

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