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CSUEB Athletics Department rewards elementary school students for reading

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Hayward elementary school students are getting a boost to their reading skills through Cal State East Bay’s Read With the Pioneers program. Part of the Promise Neighborhoods program, Read with the Pioneers rewards young students with a chance to attend CSUEB sports events and be recognized for their interest in reading.

Last year, the Athletics Department partnered with Hayward elementary schools through Promise Neighborhoods, a federal grant-funded program focusing on promoting and improving education in low-income households. Hayward was one of 21 communities nationwide that received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. CSUEB, the program administrator is using the grant money to expand community building efforts by working with elementary school students.

Read With the Pioneers encourages students from kindergarten through sixth grade to read appropriate grade level books. Every day for a month, students write down how many pages they have read and receive a signature from their parents. At the end of the month, students present the reading sheet to their teacher and schools turn in their totals to CSUEB.

Associate Athletic Director of Marketing and Promotion Dawn Ellerbe noted how the program helped one fourth grade boy at Fairview Elementary School. The student showed disinterest in schoolwork but considerably changed his attitude towards reading and homework after participating. The student’s teacher revealed to Ellerbe that the boy’s original motivation to do well in school was to be able to attend CSUEB events.

All students who participate receive a certificate of accomplishment, T-shirt, $5 gift certificate to use in the Pioneer bookstore towards the purchase of a book and four tickets to the Jan. 20 women’s home basketball game against California State University San Bernadino. The elementary school whose students read the most will be awarded a commemorative plaque. Two students from each school, one boy and one girl, who read the most will be awarded a plaque or trophy, a gift bag of CSUEB Athletics-related items and be recognized during halftime.

At Fairview and East Avenue, two of the six elementary schools that participated this year, 82 students read over 44,000 pages, a significant improvement over the 15 participants in 2010, said Ellerbe.

“We hope programs like this will allow kids who have never thought of going to college to be more involved in reading and consider a future at (CSUEB),” Ellerbe said. “One thing the university takes pride in is our community engagement. We want to build relationships with partners from our community, and go beyond just community service.”

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