American Girl’s Fund for Children has awarded a $10,000 grant to Simpson Street Free Press. The grant will support a countywide expansion of Simpson Street Free Press book clubs.
For many years Simpson Street Free Press (SSFP) has coordinated book clubs for local middle school students. Now SSFP will create a network of after-school book clubs. Students can choose the club they join (or book they read) based on their interest, or what they’re reading at school.
Book clubs will meet in person at schools, local libraries, the SSFP newsroom, and at other after-school sites. There will also be an online component. Students can blog with peers as they read, using a secure SSFP site monitored by teachers. Students will also write, submitting their book reviews at school, and/or for publication. SSFP editors will assist with writing and revision. SSFP high school students, matched with college-age SSFP editors, will serve as club captains and coordinate discussions. Each new book will launch a new book club. Middle school students can read as many books, and join as many clubs, as they wish.
“The best way to bridge local achievement gaps is to replicate what works; what is already successful here in Dane County,” says SSFP executive director Jim Kramer. “This project places local young people in leadership roles. It builds on existing assets. It follows a very successful local model. It fosters collaboration among local schools, libraries, and after-school sites.”
The Madison chapter of Altrusia International, Madison Community Foundation and Friends of Simpson Street Free Press also provide support for the project.
Founded in 1992, the SSFP uses a student-produced newspaper as a vehicle to pursue a rigorous after-school curriculum based on reading, writing and critical thinking. It stresses the basics: hard work, curiosity, academic confidence, and core subject curriculum.