Student Spotlight:  7-year-old Joey had one goal this summer: read a book and complete an activity packet so he wouldn’t fall behind … he wanted to be “top of his class!” when school started again. He didn’t just meet this goal – he crushed it!

With a focus on expanded learning, Manatee Elementary, A Community Partnership School, launched the Summer Reading Challenge in July to encourage students to keep learning all year long. Joey’s already completed three full books and activity packets and found a new love for reading – he can’t wait to read his next book and is excited to start 2nd grade.

This is especially important because the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) School Accountability Report reports that only 25% of Manatee Elementary 3rd graders are scoring satisfactory or above in reading assessments, compared to 51% districtwide. The community partnership school is actively working to change this statistic … because we know it’s more than a number – it’s a glimpse into children’s futures.

“This is a really good summer project,” says Joey’s mother. “It keeps my son busy with reading and fully engaged with his work. He loves it so much that he wants to keep going as long as he can.”

Because of the generous support of The Weichel Family Fund, Eugene F. and Elizabeth Hull Fund, Margaret & Bob Christopher Fund and Thomas Robert Wall Family Foundation Fund II of Manatee Community Foundation, the Summer Reading Challenge is already reshaping the future for kids. Through the program, teachers and families at Manatee Elementary can engage rising 1st, 4th and 5th graders through books, discussions and unique activities – and students even receive prizes for completing their activities!

Community Partnership Schools encourage success both in and outside of the classroom, bringing entire communities together to support kids like Joey – and this cannot happen without you. Thank you for bringing opportunities to our children!

Manatee Elementary, A Community Partnership School is partnership among Children’s Home Society of Florida, MCR Health, the School District of Manatee County and the University of South Florida. Together, core partners work within the school to address key barriers to learning including poverty, food insecurity, lack of affordable healthcare and mental health care and more.

To help more children find a love for reading, you can become an honorary reader for “Storytime with CHS,” a virtual library. Storytime with CHS features a “story of the week,” which also includes an activity for kids to complete and share online. Visit for more information.