According to the Beyond the Rainbow Foundation, research has shown that 40 percent of Hawaii's children entering kindergarten are under prepared in the basics, such as language, literacy and number concepts.
"Unfortunately, many students in kindergarten enter with a language base that is two years below the language found in many reading programs used in the schools. That gap widens as children progress through school," the West Maui nonprofit reported in a recent letter.
"The recent 'Maui County report card' findings for the Lahaina area children show a 65 percent literacy rate, which indicates more progress is needed in overcoming the deficiencies in elementary, middle and high schools. It is well known that children who struggle with reading have difficulty succeeding in school."
To help area keiki, President Deborah Katz said Beyond the Rainbow Foundation seeks funding for its early childhood Reading Clinic in West Maui for pre-kindergarten children.
The group already has an excellent director for the program in Dolores Cook, who holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and very successfully taught Reading Mastery to kindergarten students at Hana School.
For this school year, the Reading Clinic will offer three 90-minute sessions, four times a week, with 5-7 students in each session.
Donations to the clinic can be considered an investment in West Maui's at-risk youth, which will one day "have huge returns with a student population that is much better prepared to achieve their full potential and become productive members of our community," noted Katz and Cook in the letter.
To support the clinic and its mission to help young students improve literacy and language skills, call Katz at (808) 214-0009. For information on the group, visit beyond-the-rainbow.org/.