SHARP Literacy launches first public fundraising campaign

Seeking $125,000 to bring program to a dozen more schools

SHARP Literacy, a Milwaukee-based arts and education program for urban students, has launched its first public fundraising campaign to bring its programming to a dozen more schools.

The organization announced today it needs to raise $124,800 to expand the program to 1,200 students in 12 schools that are currently on a wait list.

SHARP Literacy hosted a tour of Discovery World for a group of second-grade students from Forest Home Avenue School.

SHARP Literacy provides an enrichment program aimed at reducing the achievement gap among Milwaukee area students, with a focus on building students’ reading, writing and research skills.

The organization, which serves students in grades 4K-5, has seen a 45 percent spike in enrollment over the past three years and added six schools this year. The program is in a total of 39 schools in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

The demand for the program, which is offered at no cost to schools, comes as funding for arts programs continues to decline, said Lynda Kohler, SHARP Literacy’s president and CEO.

“As a lot of the art programs are being forced to be cancelled because of funding, there is such a demand for our program,” Kohler said.

While the state’s 2017-19 budget increases per-pupil aid for schools, a boost for arts education isn’t included.

“We only see the need increasing,” Kohler said.

The program is offered in public, choice and charter schools. It costs about $104 per student.

SHARP’s programs include educational tours, summer- and after-school programs, public art mural projects, writing and other hands-on activities. The organization hosted a group of second-grade students from Forest Home Avenue School this morning at Discovery World.

The organization assesses students before and after participation in the program to measure improvement in their vocabulary. In 2016-17, students posted gains of about 25 to 30 percentage points on those assessments, according to SHARP Literacy.

“The need to bring SHARP’s programs into more schools is our greatest challenge,” Kohler said. “To bring more students into the program, we need to find additional donors who believe in our mission.”

SHARP Literacy, a Milwaukee-based arts and education program for urban students, has launched its first public fundraising campaign to bring its programming to a dozen more schools.

The organization announced today it needs to raise $124,800 to expand the program to 1,200 students in 12 schools that are currently on a wait list.

SHARP Literacy hosted a tour of Discovery World for a group of second-grade students from Forest Home Avenue School.

SHARP Literacy provides an enrichment program aimed at reducing the achievement gap among Milwaukee area students, with a focus on building students’ reading, writing and research skills.

The organization, which serves students in grades 4K-5, has seen a 45 percent spike in enrollment over the past three years and added six schools this year. The program is in a total of 39 schools in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

The demand for the program, which is offered at no cost to schools, comes as funding for arts programs continues to decline, said Lynda Kohler, SHARP Literacy’s president and CEO.

“As a lot of the art programs are being forced to be cancelled because of funding, there is such a demand for our program,” Kohler said.

While the state’s 2017-19 budget increases per-pupil aid for schools, a boost for arts education isn’t included.

“We only see the need increasing,” Kohler said.

The program is offered in public, choice and charter schools. It costs about $104 per student.

SHARP’s programs include educational tours, summer- and after-school programs, public art mural projects, writing and other hands-on activities. The organization hosted a group of second-grade students from Forest Home Avenue School this morning at Discovery World.

The organization assesses students before and after participation in the program to measure improvement in their vocabulary. In 2016-17, students posted gains of about 25 to 30 percentage points on those assessments, according to SHARP Literacy.

“The need to bring SHARP’s programs into more schools is our greatest challenge,” Kohler said. “To bring more students into the program, we need to find additional donors who believe in our mission.”

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