Alvernia’s Reading Youth Initiative organizes third annual Books for Bikes

With the support of Customers Bank, the Alvernia University Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagementdistributed 59 bicycles and helmets to students in the center’s Reading Youth Initiative Summer School program as a reward for their dedication to summer literacy and education programming.

“Through their summer literacy work, students explore stories of adventure, hope and opportunity on the pages of their favorite books,” said Alvernia Vice President for Mission, Diversity, & Inclusion, Dr. Darryl C. Mace. “The Holleran Center is proud to partner with our community on this youth empowerment program that fosters a love of reading and builds vital literacy skills within our talented youth in the city of Reading.”

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The United Way of Berks County first introduced the Books for Bikes program through Ready.Set.READ! It evolved to include summer literacy programs led by community organizations and institutions, including YMCA of Reading and Berks County and Alvernia University. Participation has continued to increase every year since the program was launched in 2016.

“Customers Bank is proud to carry on the six-year Books for Bikes tradition begun by my predecessor Dick Ehst,” said President & CEO of Customers Bank, Sam Sidhu. “We recognize that fighting the ‘summer slide’ in which students lose academic ground by not reading and working on vocabulary over the summer holiday is essential to improving literacy. We are pleased to work with Alvernia University, the United Way of Berks County, the YMCA of Reading and Berks, and all of the READY. SET. READ. partners.”

In addition to the bicycles and helmets that were distributed at Millmont and Tyson-Schoener Elementary Schools, each student received 10 books to build their home library.

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Students with 80% attendance in Summer School and the accompanying daily literacy activities earned the awards courtesy of Customers Bank. The Holleran Center also partnered with Reading Science Center, Yocum Institute, Reading Public Library, and Alvernia environmental students for fun, educational activities during the program.

The Reading Youth Initiative aims to promote continued education, mentoring and support for healthy choices in children who live or go to school in the Greater Reading area.

Since its inception in the summer of 2006, the Reading Youth Initiative has interacted with more than 1600 youth, providing annual summer camps, after-school mentoring and educationally enriching programs during the academic year and a variety of cultural activities including museum visits, sporting events and educational field trips all within the Greater Reading and Philadelphia area.

Rooted in the Franciscan identity of Alvernia University and its mission as a teaching and learning institution, the Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement identifies, cultivates and sustains strategic partnerships to strengthen both campus and community life. By making these community partnerships an essential part of the curriculum, the Holleran Center strives to foster the University’s mission and improve the quality of life in the community and to develop in its students a lifelong commitment to service as engaged citizens.

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