Judy Dahlke, of Ames and Leslie Kohlhaas, of Hardy have been selected to serve as AmeriCorps VISTA members at United Way of Story County (UWSC) for one year. During their year of service (February 2014-February 2015), Dahlke and Kohlhaas will work to expand Grade-Level Reading initiatives, including out -of-school learning, school readiness and attendance.
Dahlke is a retired educator and involved in efforts to promote literacy in Story County. She currently serves on the Raising Readers of Story County board of directors as an ex-officio member, and is an active volunteer. Kohlhaas graduated from Iowa State University in 2013 with bachelor degrees in child, adult and family services; and financial counseling and planning. She served as UWSC’s Women with Initiative intern last year.
UWSC is leading the local Grade-Level Reading Campaign, Ames Reads, which is engaging community partners such as Raising Readers of Story County, the Ames Public Library, Ames Community Schools, Youth and Shelter Services and Volunteer Center of Story County with a goal to ensure all children read and comprehend at or above grade-level by the end of third grade.
The Grade-Level Reading Campaign is a national initiative led by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in partnership with All-America Cities. There are currently 140 communities that have convened partnerships to work on local strategies with the shared goal.
AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program designed to fight poverty. President John F. Kennedy originated the idea for VISTA, which was founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993. United Way Worldwide (UWW) is serving as the project sponsor for the AmeriCorps VISTA program and UWSC is the site superivsor, directing the project, supervising the members and providing administrative support to complete the goals of the project. Nationally, UWW will place 40 members in communities where United Way organizations are facilitating local Grade-Level Reading Campaigns.