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Forward Scholars
(A Common Ground initiative)



Forward Scholars is a one-on-one tutoring 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 (MPS) in September 2022 targets kindergarten - 3rd grade students who are not yet meeting grade-level expectations in reading.  The program was so successful in its first year that it expanded to 7 schools in MPS for the 2023-2024 school year.  The program has brought over 200 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.  Additionally, 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:

$25—3 leveled books for a student

$75—one hour of individualized reading tutoring for one student

$100—one hour of tutoring and 3 leveled books for a student

$150—home library books, certificates, incentive charts and stickers to celebrate student success

$250—one set of decodable books

Forward Scholars Staff

  • Dr. Carrie Streiff-Stuessy, Executive Director

  • MacKenzie Menefee, Site Coordinator

  • Lynnae Ortiz, Site Coordinator

  • Melody Ratney, Site Coordinator

  • Katie Kison, Site Coordinator

  • Megan Miner, Site Coordinator

  • Melissa Rios, Family & Community Relations Coordinator

  • Lyndsey Randall, part-time Administrative Assistant

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