ST. CLOUD - The District 742 Local Education and Activities Foundation (LEAF) is partnering with the St. Cloud Rotary Club to expand a childhood reading program.

A $15,000 gift from the St. Cloud Rotary Club and an additional $10,000 grant from LEAF will expand the Parents and Kids Reading Aloud Together program into June, July and August.

The program provides reading materials for children who lack access to books in preschool through third grade.

LEAF executive director Bruce Hentges says LEAF will also use the money to buy a bus to deliver books to students.

"We needed to have a bus that was totally focused on this project. We've done some shopping around and found a used school bus that's going to work great for our purposes."

The bus will make weekly stops at six locations within school clusters. Stops will include the Boys & Girls Club locations and the schools with summer Kidstop programs.

Hentges says students who don't have access to reading materials in the summer, often struggle in school.

"A study based on Richard Allington's research says up to 85 percent of the achievement gap can be attributed to the summer slide, where students are not exposed to quality educational materials. This program can help fill that void."

Anyone who has children's books to donate to this program can contact Sara Martini at

To support or learn more about the program, go to the LEAF website.

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