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Waynesboro group hopes to boost literacy - The News Virginian 

Posted: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 4:57 pm

Staff reports

WAYNESBORO-At first, Terry Short wanted to buy iPads for local kids. The founder and president of the Waynesboro Arts and Culture Initiative wanted his group to help the community, and so giving students a chance to work with technology seemed like a good idea at first. But then he started talking with educators and others in the community, realizing there was a larger problem.

“It didn’t take me long to learn if they can’t assemble a word, what good is an iPad?” Short said. “Basic literacy skills are a problem for some kids here. And so we started thinking about how we as a community can facilitate something to do good and help.”

On Wednesday, Short and the rest of the Waynesboro Arts and Culture Initiative launched their project. Called “BOOST Literacy,” the group is partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County for a pilot program, to help elementary school kids struggling with reading skills. The project identifies 20 to 30 students from kindergarten through third grade and provides tutors at no cost to the families for an after school reading program, which runs four days a week through the rest of the school year. The Culture Initiative covers the cost, through a $5,000 donation.

“I’m not naïve enough to think this is a cure-all,” Short said, “but 20 to 30 kids is a good start. We’ll measure the success, make adjustments and hopefully this will become an ongoing project that we fund.” Officials from the Boys and Girls Club said they appreciated the help. "The Boys and Girls Club of Waynesboro is grateful for the opportunity to provide such a creative and important literacy program to the Waynesboro community,” Tom Hardiman, Treasurer for the Waynesboro Boys and Girls Club, said in a statement. “Thanks to the generosity of the Waynesboro Arts and Culture Initiative, we will be able to supplement our current programs and provide these youth with more attention and resources to improve their early academic success.”

Short said this type of project was what he had in mind when he and some friends launched the Culture Initiative last year. The group also organized this year’s Chili, Brews and Blues Festival.

“We didn’t just want to give to a charity, we wanted to make it so that we were empowering someone,” Short said. "We can either complain about a condition, or try to do something about it. We hope this contribution can help those that need the support of our community the most."

Pictured: Terry Short (left) presents Annie Sachs of the Boys & Girls Club a check for $5,000.

Jeremiah Knupp, News Leader