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49ers and Reading Partners team up at Lakewood

Reading Partners and the 49ers teamed up in the name of literacy at Lakewood Elementary School in September.

On Sept. 28, a group of San Francisco 49ers players spent their afternoon with Lakewood Lions teaching them the importance of reading and learning.
Michael Wilhoite, Marcus Martin, Garrison Smith, Nick Easton, Tony Jerrod-Eddie, and Bradley Pinion surprised a group of second and third graders with a special read aloud session. The players read and acted out If you Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff to the children's delight.
They then broke out into one-on-one sessions where they practiced reading and reviewing the sequence of events, story structure and character response events.
Students then ended the day with high fives and an autographed book to chosen by the player to take home.  
“Our volunteer tutor base is comprised of community members from diverse backgrounds within the Sunnyvale community and the Bay Area as a whole,” said Lakewood Reading Partners Coordinator Yelenna Arzu. “The 49ers are a part of this community, and we are fortunate that the organization will be partnering with us on this day to continue to inspire our students to strive to become stronger and more confident readers.” 
The nationwide nonprofit, Reading Partners, trains members of the community to work one-on-one with a student for an hour per week for a semester. With the help of the volunteers, students gain on average 1.6 months of reading skills for every month they're in the program. Reading Partners supplements what the teachers are doing in the classroom by working with students to boost skills in decoding, comprehension and fluency.
The program served 296 Sunnyvale students last year at Bishop, Ellis, Lakewood, San Miguel and Vargas elementary schools in the Sunnyvale School District. This will be Lakewood's 4th year working with the program.
“Connecting role models from the community with our students through books can mean more than we'll know until much later,” said Lakewood Principal Pamela Cheng. “It’s heartening to see people take the time to make a difference on the campuses of our public schools—they are some of the few places left these days where children and adults from all walks of life gather to connect and learn from each other.”
At the core of Reading Partners' program is bringing in community members who can connect with students through books and stories and support students' literacy development by building skills and relationships through reading.
“We are so pleased to offer communities a simple and impactful way of giving back to their communities through Reading Partners,” said Reading Partners Executive Director Nicole Johnson. “We know that moving the needle for literacy in the early years is a key indicator for future academic and professional success, and are pleased to offer a program that can positively impact the lives of our students.” 
This partnership came about by submitting a proposal about literacy that aligned with the goals of the 49ers this year.                                                                                                 
Now in its 23rd year, the 49ers Foundation supports development programs for underserved youth that keep them “Safe, On Track, and In School." Since 1992, the Foundation has donated $30.6 million to support nonprofits, contributing $4.6 million in 2014, including a $1 million grant to launch the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute at Cabrillo Middle School in Santa Clara.
49ers high five Lakewood students after reading to them in the library   
49er Michael Wilhoite reads If You Take a Mouse to School aloud while 49ers Bradley Pinion and Garrison Smith act it out