PENSACOLA, Fla. – Feb. 8, 2022 – The Regions Foundation, a nonprofit organization funded primarily by Regions Bank, on Tuesday announced a $50,000 grant to the YMCA of Northwest Florida to bring a proven after-school reading program to the Panhandle.
The donation will allow the YMCA to establish YReads! at West Pensacola Elementary School. Nearly 100 WPES students from kindergarten through fourth grade will benefit from the after-school tutoring program designed to improve reading comprehension and strengthen education.
“Education creates a world of opportunity, and this program is making a real investment in the lives of children – an investment that helps level the playing field and positions students for long-term success,” said Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation. “At the Regions Foundation, we believe in creating more opportunities for more people to succeed, and that’s why supporting education is a key priority for us. The YReads! program gives students individual attention to supplement what they learn in the classroom. Between the dedication of the YMCA and the commitment of exceptional educators at West Pensacola Elementary, we know students at WPES are well positioned for long-term success.”
WPES will be the first YReads! program site in the Panhandle. Elsewhere, YMCA chapters across the Florida Peninsula have served students through YReads! for several years. During the 2020-2021 academic year, nearly 768 students received YReads! services. Students in grades 1-4 showed gains in reading comprehension, while fourth graders increased their reading comprehension by nearly one grade level. That’s promising data for Northwest Florida.
“YReads! is an evidence-based, proven commodity in other parts of the state. We are absolutely thrilled the Regions Foundation chose to donate $50,000 and trust us to build it here,” said Michael Bodenhausen, CEO of the YMCA of Northwest Florida. “We are going to do all we can to make sure the program at West Pensacola Elementary is successful. And then, we want to place it in every school that needs it. It’s going to take the whole community to make that difference.”
The YReads! program will use volunteer mentors trained to teach individualized reading lesson plans, evaluate student progress, and celebrate student achievements. Parents will also receive tools to help students continue reading gains at home.
“I’m excited for our community to have access to this kind of support beyond the school day. This program will extend the learning environment and give our students an opportunity to apply discrete skills we teach in the classroom in more real-life settings,” said Christine Baker, principal of West Pensacola Elementary School. “I’m excited for our students to feel so supported, to know that there are people who see them as worth their time, their energy, and their financial giving. This means a lot.”
Baker expects WPES students will begin to show improvements in as little as six weeks in the YReads! program. She also predicts great results from community volunteers being able to provide unique support to students. Regions Bank associates are willing to answer that call.
“We have several associates who have already expressed interest in becoming volunteer mentors for YReads!,” said Scott Barrow, Pensacola market executive for Regions Bank. “We are inspired by the success the program has had across the state and look forward to following the progress of students, seeing them thrive as good readers and achieve success in their young educational lives.”
Community members interested in becoming a YReads! volunteer mentor may contact Angela Stephens, YMCA Youth and Family Services director, at email@example.com.
About Regions Foundation
Regions Foundation supports community investments that positively impact the communities served by Regions Bank. The Foundation engages in a grantmaking program focused on priorities including economic and community development; education and workforce readiness; and financial wellness. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation funded primarily through contributions from Regions Bank.
About Regions Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $163 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,300 banking offices and more than 2,000 ATMs. Regions Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at www.regions.com.