Y Readers wins national summer learning award

A YMCA Charlotte program that helps Charlotte-Mecklenburg students with reading skills has been recognized as one of the most effective summer education programs in the country.

Y Readers, which launched in Charlotte in 1999 and has since become a model for YMCA organizations around the country, has been awarded the “New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award,” the organization announced Thursday.

The distinction goes to three programs each year, and comes with a $10,000 prize.

The six-week Y Readers program focuses heavily on literacy and serves students in rising first through third grades. It started with 40 students at Reid Park Academy, and has since grown to 528 students across 10 schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Lincoln County Schools and the Mooresville Graded School District.

“We impact children in a way we don’t have the opportunity to do so during the school year,” said Courtney Blosser, site coordinator at Huntingtowne Farms Elementary and a first-grade teacher at the school. “We have incredibly talented teachers who really care about the students.”

Two years ago, the national YMCA organization sent representatives to study the model and institute it at other YMCAs around the country. This summer, 39 YMCA systems had the program.

The announcement marks the second year in a row a Charlotte program has been honored. Last year, Charlotte-based Freedom School Partners received one of the awards. It offers six-week summer programs focused on reading and based at local churches and schools.