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Read to Succeed!

Santa Clara County Library

Problem Statement

Many school-age children in Milpitas struggle with reading. If their parents are foreign-born, it may be difficult for them to get help at home. This problem is exacerbated during the summer months when there is no school.


Organize high school students to tutor younger children during summer vacation.


Read to Succeed!, the brainchild of Jamie Yao, was organized in 2005. At the time, Jamie was a sophomore at Milpitas High School. What has developed is truly a collaborative effort among the tutors (students at Milpitas High), Vision Literacy (adult literacy arm of Santa Clara County Library) and the Milpitas Public Library, which is also part of the Santa Clara County Library system. Jamie has since graduated and gone on to college, but before she moved on she selected and trained her successor to run the program. The coordinator recruits volunteer tutors from among fellow students in English class; the library provides the space for the tutoring to happen; Vision Literacy trains each crop of new tutors in how exactly to teach reading. The library also helps get the word out to the elementary schools in Milpitas whose students have lower than average reading levels. Teachers at these schools in turn make sure that the families of students who especially need this help are made aware of the program. All sign-ups are handled by the student tutors themselves. Jamie worked out her own method of assessing the reading level of each student and paired learners with appropriate tutors. The actual tutoring happens twice each week for two months in the summer here at the library. Our children’s librarians help by selecting appropriate books for the learners. Read to Succeed! has reached about 70 children each year for the past five summers, and they are in the process of gearing up for another season. The program has been recognized by the Milpitas City Council for being a low-cost, yet highly effective, way to reach children who need a little extra coaching and help with their reading. Each year the volunteers, many of whom put in as many as 80 hours on the project, receive certificates of appreciation from the mayor of Milpitas at a city council meeting. Jamie Yao, as the originator of the program, has received a special commendation from the city and has also been recognized by the board of the Milpitas Unified School District for her dedication and contributions to the youth of our community.