Mission Empower/Mission Read receives $60,000 from Pa Dept of Education with help from Rep. Patrick Harkins

Press Conference – May 17, 2024, at Mission Empower at 1:30pm

For more information, please contact:
Darlene Brown
Mission Read Connector and Lead Trainer, Mission Empower
Phone # 814-825-0788, Ext. 111 Cell 574-213-4025 Fax 814-459-6003

Mission Empower’s Reading tutoring program, Mission Read receives $60,000.00 from the Pennsylvania Department of Education as part of the Job Training Education and Programs state grant with the assistance of State Representative Patrick J. Harkins.

Mission Read – a Dyslexia Center of Excellence facilitates individual learning with tutors trained in the Barton Reading and Spelling System. The tutoring program is especially designed for school-aged students with dyslexia or dyslexic tendencies, in the city of Erie and Erie County. The grant allows the program to return to being free of charge, affording the opportunity to more students struggling with Reading, Spelling and Writing.

Working one-on-one with students twice a week to improve their reading skills and help them understand the structure of the English language, the program provides vital evidence-based special intervention essential for children with dyslexia to match up to and even exceed their peers. By training tutors in dyslexia intervention skills, the program addresses a crucial education gap as most schools in the United States do not offer such programs to struggling students.

It was necessary for Mission Read in January 2024 to change to a fee based tutoring program due to funding ending in December 2023 from a private grant. Parents were informed the service was going to a sliding fee basis depending on family size and household income. With the present economy and students still requiring help to recover from lost classroom instruction due to covid, it was critical to secure funding to offer free tutoring for Reading, Spelling and Writing in the City of Erie and Erie County. The poverty rate in the City of Erie is 24.7% and Erie County is 15.7%. The national average is 12.6%. Mission Read, being a free tutoring service, is a crucial piece of the children’s educational support system.

A parent, Dina Jean Iman, reached out to State Representative Patrick Harkins’ office staff with her plea to help find funding for this essential program for her eight-year-old son, Jacob. Jacob was participating in the Mission Read program and was showing marked improvement in his reading skills and self-confidence.  She was told to have Mission Empower call the office to discuss what was needed to find the necessary resources to continue the free tutoring program for the thirty-two students coming for Reading assistance.

Darlene Brown, Mission Read Connector, was informed to put together a letter outlining the program’s need and a proposed budget to return to a free service. State Representative Harkins took the materials to Harrisburg and hand delivered them to the proper department for consideration.

On March 27, 2024, The Department of Education awarded $60,000. to Mission Empower for the Mission Read program through the Job Training Education and Program Grant.

As of April 2024, Mission Read was able to return to a free tutoring program for the students along with expanding the services to more students presently on a “waiting list”. The program is actively recruiting additional volunteer tutors to work with the students using the Barton Reading and Spelling System. .

Mission Empower is a Community Parent Resource Center serving children, youth, and young adults with disabilities from birth to age 26 and their families. It is Mission Empower’s goal to assist Erie County families along their journey so their children may be included at school, at work, and in the community.