“Not only do I get to see the students grow with reading and literacy, but I get to know them and they get to know me on a personal level. We're growing together.” Ethan, Literacy Mentor
Decode Project BEgins
Decode Project was born out of necessity to provide equitable access to quality literacy instruction to Louisville’s West End students.
As a school counselor, Decode Project’s Executive Director/Co-Founder LaToya Whitlock learned that many of the behavioral challenges students faced stemmed from academic frustration over the absence of foundational reading skills and quality instruction from an asset-based lens.
The results were undeniable in the winter of 2019. Students noted themselves feeling more confident and positive about being in the classroom. One student jumped eight reading levels in half a school year!
First Summer Camp
DP hosted a four-week summer intensive designed to expose struggling readers to structured literacy and experiential learning. Students received daily structured literacy instruction and were introduced to artists and engineers who encouraged them to dream about their future.
DP extended programming to serve more students with new partners such as Saint Vincent De Paul’s Family Resource Center, where students received one-on-one structured literacy intervention twice a week.
Literacy is a prerequisite for the digital world. We couldn’t stop for COVID. We dove into virtual classes with new partners—Dare to Dream Academy, Mizizi Homeschool Co-op, and Portland Neighborhood House—as well as individual students. COVID closed schools and youth-serving organizations, forcing Decode Project to pivot to provide online programming for students even more at risk of falling behind.
During a five-week Virtual Caregiver Workshop, staff resourced families with tangible materials and information to reinforce structured literacy skill building while sheltering in place. Empowering caregivers with the tools needed to teach their kids to read is vital to supporting our students.
In the summer of 2020, we responded to the uprising for racial justice by expanding our programming to include adults. Twenty-two white women participated in a nine-month intensive, gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to practice anti-racism and create a more equitable community for our young people.
A Resilient Response
As learning inequities grew over the pandemic, we scaled up during the 2020-2021 school year to keep doing what we do best, including assessing and instructing over 50 students and training caregivers, youth workers, and educators.
We supported the Louisville Central Community Center’s literacy and theater camp for 16 students. That summer we also trained 12 youth counselors at Portland Neighborhood House.
Expanding our impact
During the 2021-2022 school year, we expanded our programs to include three local elementary schools—Byck, Maupin, and King, part of the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) system. We continued work with the Mizizi Homeschool Co-op and the Portland Neighborhood House where we worked with 64 students.
LIT Summer Experience
For five weeks, 22 campers began their day with 120 minutes of Structured Literacy lessons designed to build on their individual reading skills. We spent the rest of our day exploring weekly themes of nature, animals, space, entertainment, and culture through experiential learning opportunities that incorporated art, movement, music, mindfulness, and storytelling. These included weekly field trips and hands-on presentations from experts in our community.
Through our one-on-one structured literacy and Caregiver Workshops, we intend to serve and resource over 200 students and caregivers this year!
Will you help make it possible?