Literacy Breakfast feeds Federal Way mentor program

It's a breakfast for a cause.

The 10th annual Literacy Breakfast, sponsored by the Communities in Schools of Federal Way, raises money for the PASS mentoring program and Summer Bridge, a summer reading school.

Tony Ventrella will emcee this year's event, which will also feature the "Teacher of the Year" and "Mentor of the Year" awards. The awards will be presented by kids who are in the mentor program.

Mentoring costs about $233 per student helped. Costs for the program include communications, background checks and coordination of the volunteers. The money raised at the breakfast will go directly toward offsetting that cost.

Each year, the breakfast raises between $55,000 and $80,000. Last year, the group raised $70,000. Despite the economy, organizers are hoping for about $75,000 this year.

"I've heard from other non-profits that people are still giving," said Tracy Oster with Communities in Schools. "It's more personable. It's your neighbor, your student, your grandchild. You can see who it is helping."

This year, there are already 400 attendees registered. There is still room available.

The group had planned on having Elson Floyd, president of Washington State University, serve as the keynote speaker. However, Floyd had to cancel at the last minute. Instead, the plan is to expand some of the other aspects of the program.

"The breakfast has really grown with the community," Oster said. "I am amazed and pleased with the support. I hope that will continue."

Check it out

The breakfast begins at 7:15 a.m. Feb. 24 at the Christian Faith Center, 33645 20th Ave S. For more information, contact Tracy Oster at (253) 838-2605.

Washington state literacy

• In Washington state, one in six adults don't have the English skills to secure a livable wage job. (according to American Literacy)

• Between 1990 and 2000, the non-English speaking adult population more than doubled from 117,000 to 261,000.

• A Current Population Survey done in 1999 found that children who were read to at least three times a week by a family member were almost twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading than children who were read to less than three times a week.

• National Institute of Health studies are finding that at least 95 percent of even the poorest readers can learn to read at grade level if they are given proper instruction in sound-letter relationships. (from

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