Youth Literacy Program Helps Students with Academics

Youth Literacy Program Helps Students with Academics

Bettye Moulden, 68, of Oklahoma City, serves dinner to Xavier Jones, 11, from Oklahoma City, at the Oklahoma Youth Literacy Program on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Photo by Eriech Tapia, The Vista. 

After opening its doors in 2014, the Oklahoma Youth Literacy Program (OKYLP) is now looking for volunteers for its after-school program. The program is designed to ensure that students succeed academically and has almost 25 students now and  are in need of more help in furthering the student’s knowledge.

With a current ratio of eight students per leader, the OKYLP is looking to reduce that number to an average of four children per leader.

“We actively work with each child as much as we possibly can … it just depends on how much help we have that day,” Gina Darby, a founder of the OKYLP, said.

With a focus on writing and reading, the program has additional goals of picking up students from school, providing them with a meal, and building a positive learning environment for academic growth.

“If everybody gave at least once a month or came in one day out of the month and said ‘I’m going to give this two hours today,’ you’ve added two more hours to their learning,” Darby said.

In addition to providing one-on-one tutoring sessions, volunteers are given the chance to help in the kitchen by cooking meals for the students and serving them.

“College students can be a part of what we do. I think it’s important because they can build their volunteer hours,” Darby said.

After recently deciding to spend her afternoons at the program, Ashley Means, 23, is a nursing student at the University of Central Oklahoma and said she enjoys giving back to the community with youth development.

“Education is very important and if the kid doesn’t have a good one, they’re going to be so far behind,” Means said.

Beginning as a summer program, the OKYLP has evolved into a place where children go every day after school to receive help with homework before their parents pick them up.

The program was established after leaders of Impact Athletics noticed youth-athletes struggling to read and comprehend written contracts that they had to sign to play their chosen sports.

“The whole concept started so that the players wouldn’t just be great athletes, but great in the books as well,” Darby said.

From there, the program expanded. Destiney Davis, 14, who is involved in the program, said she joined after her brothers began attending. Her three brothers, who are a part of the football program, joined the Literacy Program and have seen an improvement in their academic skills.

“Miss Gina is one of the football parents and used to come over to our house all the time, so I decided to start at the beginning of the summer,” Davis said.

Davis, a student at John Marshall Mid-High School, found herself struggling with Algebra I. After receiving help through the program, Davis said she gained a new understanding of math and managed to significantly raise her letter grade.

The OKYLP is funded by private donations and a $45 per-week charge to the parents of the children involved.

The foundation now serves roughly 25 students on a weekly basis ranging in age from around 3-14. For more information about the program and how to get involved, visit or call 405-822-9900.

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