Mercer Street Friends receives $25K donation in support of its highly successful reading program

Organization, headed by former NJM leader Bernie Flynn, earns grant from N.J. State Golf Association Youth Foundation

Nothing is more valuable than the ability to read.

It’s one of the philosophies of Mercer Street Friends, a nonprofit whose mission supports local families through comprehensive food and education programs.

And it was recently on display in Trenton.

First- and second-grade students from the Reading Intervention Program in the Trenton School District’s Luis Muñoz-Rivera Elementary School demonstrated their reading abilities before family members, friends and supporters and received certificates of achievement.

The program also received a generous $25,000 gift from the New Jersey State Golf Association Youth Foundation, the largest in the organization’s history.

Mercer Street Friends CEO Bernie Flynn, the former head of New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group, said the funds will be dedicated to advancing the goals of the Mercer Street Friends Community Schools Reading Intervention Program.

“We are very proud of the reading advancements made by this year’s class of student participants in our Reading Intervention Program,” he said. “What could possibly be more rewarding than seeing the look of satisfaction on the faces of students as they read to their parents and family members gathered for the event.

“Additionally, we are grateful to the New Jersey State Golf Association Youth Foundation for its incredibly generous gift that will allow us to continue and enhance this important Community Schools initiative.”

New Jersey State Golf Association Youth Foundation Chair Frank O’Brien said the group was delighted to help.

“The Youth Foundation is very enthusiastic to join in the Reading Intervention program,” he said. “We hope that this Success grant will provide these youngsters with the necessary tools to expand their opportunities and live productive lives.”

Mercer Street Friends, through its nationally recognized Community Schools initiative, provides the Reading Intervention Program to help young students gain grade level reading proficiency. A full-service Community School is a public elementary or secondary school that uses established partnerships between schools and community organizations to provide well-rounded educational opportunities, and meet the social, emotional, physical, mental health and academic needs of students.

Mercer Street Friends is the lead agency for the Community School initiative in the Trenton Public School District.

As part of the Reading Intervention Program, reading interventionists meet with small groups of Trenton students four times per week for 30 minutes, where they concentrate on phonetics in first and second grades. After that, the interventionists move onto reading comprehension, working on reading skills, inferencing, predicting and character traits. In third and fourth grades, the program focuses on reading skills such as cause and effect, sequencing and higher order thinking questions for comprehension.

In addition to Luis Muñoz-Rivera Elementary School, Mercer Street Friends partners with two other Trenton-based Community Schools: B.C. Gregory Elementary School, where the organization provides site coordinators, case managers and reading interventionists, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, providing site coordinators and case managers.

Mercer Street Friends also provides comprehensive services to schools, students and families throughout the year, including after-school enrichment and summer programs.