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Archdiocese of Denver and Learning Ally announce expansion of services to help struggling readers

Categories: Education & Teaching, Press Releases

$300,000 in community-based philanthropy grows partnership and extends Learning Ally’s reach to Colorado students with print disabilities

Terrie at Archdiocese2DENVER –  The Archdiocese of Denver and Learning Ally, a national nonprofit organization that supports students who read and learn differently due to dyslexia, blindness and other disabilities, announced an expanded partnership that will make Learning Ally programs and services available to students who struggle with reading across all Archdiocesan schools, for the 2016-2017 school year. The expanded program in the Diocese will increase the total number of students served by Learning Ally to more than 8,000 students across Colorado. The Learning Ally program includes an online library of 82,000 human narrated textbooks and literature titles – all accessible via personal computers, smartphones, Chromebooks, and Apple or Android tablets – as well as personalized training and professional development for teachers, student leadership and advocacy services, and other key initiatives. With leadership support from The Zarlengo Foundation, the program launched as a pilot in the summer of 2015, initially growing to support 260 students in six Archdiocesan schools. The Archdiocese committed to the program after learning about the significant impact Learning Ally was having with more than 7,500 students across 200 Denver Public Schools. Now Learning Ally is extending support to reach many more students in all 36 schools in the Archdiocese of Denver. The expansion has been made possible by community donors, spearheaded by the Zarlengo Foundation, which has contributed more than $200,000 to the effort, as well as generous support from the Heider Family Foundation and other community donors. “The impact of the Learning Ally program was immediate,” says Mary Cohen, Associate Superintendent of Schools for the Denver Archdiocese. “We have seen marked improvements among enrolled students. Students who have struggled to read for their entire lives are now discovering a true love of reading and a new level of confidence. It’s remarkable. We are so happy to be able to provide this opportunity to all students in the Diocese who struggle, and thank the Zarlengo Foundation and other wonderful community donors for making this a reality.” Gisele, a sixth grader with dyslexia at Guardian Angels School in the Diocese, had always wanted to read “Matilda” by Roald Dahl, which many of her friends were enjoying. Using Learning Ally’s technology, she was able to finish all 230 pages of the book in three weeks. “I am not afraid to try to read anymore, thanks to Learning Ally,” beams Gisele. Learning Ally teacher training, professional development and technology implementation will continue through the remainder of this school year; and the program is expected to  be fully available to more than 1500 Archdiocese students at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. "It is our honor to be able to provide this opportunity to students  who struggle with reading,” said Katie Zarlengo, Executive Director of the Zarlengo Foundation.  “The expansion of the Learning Ally program in Denver Archdiocese schools is something we are extremely proud of because we know how this program helps students; we have seen it firsthand.  Now we can't wait to bring this wonderful program to all the students who need it throughout the Archdiocesan schools.” About Learning Ally: Founded in 1948, Learning Ally supports K-12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom read and learn differently due to dyslexia, blindness or visual impairment, and other disabilities.  The organization hosts live and virtual events for families and teachers; provides instructive webinars led by experts as well as peer-to-peer sessions led by students; personal consultations for parents; and professional development workshops for educators. Learning Ally’s collection of 82,000 human-narrated audio textbooks and literature titles can be downloaded by students using their smartphones and tablets, and is the largest of its kind in the world. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Learning Ally is partially funded by grants from state and local education programs, and the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information visit www.LearningAlly.org.

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