Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Bank of America Donation Ceremony
October 22, 1999
John Rindlaub, thank you so much. Today is terrific—a great day. I’ve been traveling around our state all summer and fall, encouraging people to get involved in the Reading Corps. I’ve done everything but stand on street corners handing out brochures. And what Bank of America has done is exactly what I’ve been asking businesses across Washington to do—to step up and get involved in teaching our children the magic of reading.
Our success with the Washington Reading Corps has been phenomenal. We’ve exceeded our wildest expectations. A year ago we set out to recruit 8,000 volunteers to tutor 22,000 struggling readers. Well, we ended up with 11,000 volunteers, thanks to the efforts of Harris Wofford, the CEO for the Corporation of National Services who is with us today, and his AmeriCorps and VISTA Volunteers. Several hundred AmeriCorps and VISTA Volunteers helped to recruit those 11,000 volunteers as well as serving tutors themselves. Just this morning Harris and I swore in 1,000 new AmeriCorps volunteers for our state! 400 will be helping with the Reading Corps program.
And the Reading Corps works! We saw the number of students passing the new state reading standards go up 9% this year. That’s great, I guess. But the number of students passing the new state reading standards in Seattle schools with Reading Corps programs went up 63%. Sixty-three percent!! And here at Concord Elementary, the number of students passing the new state reading standards went up 116%. That is, almost twice as many students are meeting the standards after just one year. We’ve seen the same impressive results all across the state. That’s phenomenal.
Bank of America’s generosity and commitment is exactly the kind of community involvement we need to keep the Reading Corps going strong. The Reading Corps is all about families, businesses, communities and schools pulling together to teach our children how to read. And reading is the key to all other academic success.
AmeriCorps volunteers can’t do it alone. Schools can’t do it alone. Our teachers can’t do it alone. We need community involvement—we need more companies to follow Bank of America’s example, and step up and hit a home run for kids.
Bank of America is giving a lot more than this $25,000 check. They are also allowing every employee in every Bank of America branch across our state two hours of paid time per week to volunteer in the schools. That translates into thousands of hours of tutoring and we all know how exponentially these numbers escalate as the children become reading buddies among themselves.
Bank of America is not only enriching our children’s lives, and enriching their employees’ lives; they are also setting an example to all other businesses in Washington. They are sending out the message about how important it is to educate our children—not just for the children themselves, but also how important it is for businesses. I cannot thank you enough. Let’s all give John Rindlaub and Bank of America a big round of applause for making the commitment to our children.
And now I’d like to ask Pat Stanford to come up and say a few words. Pat’s family has done so much for education in the state of Washington—John Stanford’s dream that “every child will learn” still rings in the hearts of citizens across the state. Please welcome Pat Stanford.