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Forward Scholars
(A Common Ground initiative)



Forward Scholars is a one-on-one tutor program which is designed to make a measurable increase in reading skills and help close the educational opportunity gap. This during-the-school-day program, which started in five Milwaukee Public Schools in September 2022 targets kindergarten - 3rd grade students who are not yet meeting grade-level expectations in reading.  The program has brought over 150 adult volunteers, including many retired educators, into the schools at a time when schools are struggling to find enough staff.

Pre-pandemic only about 16% of MPS third graders were reading at or above grade-level.  Furthermore, Wisconsin has the largest black-white achievement gap in the nation.  Pre-COVID19 scores for third graders in MPS show that 37-40% of white students were proficient or advanced in reading compared to 9-10% of black students.  The ability to read by the end of third grade is critical to a child’s success in school and life-long earning potential. A study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed that students who were not proficient in reading by the end of third grade were four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers.

The tutoring program is already making a difference. In addition to learning to read, these young learners are developing self-confidence, excitement for reading, and a trusting, supportive relationship with a caring adult. Every child has the human right to be literate; we can do this together as a community!

What your gift may provide:

$30--books for one tutoring session

$50--one hour of individualized reading tutoring

$100--one hour of tutoring, books, and a backpack for a student

Forward Scholars Staff

  • Dr. Carrie Streiff-Stuessy, Executive Director

  • MacKenzie Menefee, Site Coordinator

  • Lynnae Ortiz, Site Coordinator

  • Melody Ratney, Site Coordinator

Forward Scholars Board Members

  • President, Jennifer O’Hear, Common Ground

  • Vice-President, Helen Harris, St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church

  • Treasurer, Sharon Spencer, Lamb of God Missionary Baptist Church

  • Secretary, Kristi Davis Gutierrez, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

  • Molly Shiffler, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee and Cardinal Stritch University

  • Willie Jude, Community Baptist Church of Milwaukee