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Walmart Foundation Gives $3.9 Million to Help Increase Middle School Student Reading Levels

Los Angeles, Calif., May 19, 2010 – To help increase literacy levels among middle school students, the Walmart Foundation announced $3.9 million in grants to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year and WGBH Boston. Funding from the Walmart Foundation will support programs that help students who are reading below grade-level.

It’s estimated that 50 percent of eighth graders in urban, high-poverty schools read at a fifth grade reading level or lower. In an effort to reverse this trend, the Walmart Foundation is supporting the following initiatives:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America will receive $1.5 million to create dedicated reading spaces at 100 Clubs to encourage reading. Designed to instill positive attitudes towards learning, the spaces will serve an estimated 5,000 youth across the U.S.
  • City Year will receive $1.2 million to establish a literacy training academy for 2,000 Americorp volunteers. The volunteers will tutor more than 45,000 urban public school students in the fifth through eighth grades during the upcoming academic year.
  • WGBH, a public television station headquartered in Boston, Mass., will receive $1.2 million to broaden its free online curriculum for teachers across the U.S. With resources for lesson planning, the new curriculum will assist teachers whose students have difficulty reading and writing.

Walmart executive vice president, Raul Vasquez announced the commitment at a City Year conference in Los Angeles, “Walmart and the Walmart Foundation recognize that students of today are the leaders of tomorrow,” said Vasquez. “Providing extra support will help students excel not only in school but in life.”

"A solid education is the foundation for a successful and productive life," said Superintendent Tom Brady of the Providence (RI) Public School District. "Providing extra assistance to students who need it most is vital and we’re thankful Walmart is supporting programs that are helping students."

Last year, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave $53 million to support education, including Walmart’s Teacher Rewards program that provided $4 million to help 40,000 teachers across the U.S. purchase vital classroom supplies.

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About Philanthropy at Walmart

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. The Walmart Foundation funds initiatives focused on education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From Feb. 1, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $512 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally, $467 million of which was donated in the U.S. To learn more, visit www.walmartfoundation.org.

About City Year

City Year unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service, giving them the skills and opportunities to change the world. As tutors, mentors and role models, these diverse young leaders help children stay in school and on track, and transform schools and communities across the United States, as well as through international affiliates. Founded in Boston in 1988, City Year has established programs in Boston; Chicago; Cleveland; Columbia, SC; Columbus; Detroit; Little Rock/North Little Rock; Los Angeles; Louisiana; Miami; Milwaukee; New Hampshire; New York; Greater Philadelphia; Rhode Island; San Antonio; San Jose/Silicon Valley; Seattle/King County; and Washington, D.C.; and international affiliates in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, England. City Year is a proud member of AmeriCorps. For more information, please visit www.cityyear.org.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org) has enabled young people, especially those who need Clubs most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, some 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve more than 4.2 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs can be found throughout the country and on U.S. military installations worldwide, providing young people 6-18 years old with guidance-oriented character development programs conducted by trained, professional staff. Key programs emphasize leadership development; education and career exploration; community service; technology training; financial literacy; health and life skills; the arts; sports, fitness and recreation; and family outreach. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster, producing such award-winning PBS series as Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur, Curious George and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2/HD and 44, and digital channels World and Create. Local TV productions that focus on the region’s diverse community include Greater Boston, Basic Black and María Hinojosa: One-on-One. WGBH Radio serves listeners from Cape Cod to New Hampshire with WGBH 89.7, Boston’s NPR Station for News and Culture; 99.5 All Classical; WCAI for the Cape and Islands; WNCK on Nantucket; and the All-Classical WGBH HD channel. WGBH also produces the national radio news program The World. WGBH is a leading producer of online content and a pioneer in developing educational multimedia and new technologies that make media accessible for people with disabilities. Find more information at www.wgbh.org.