Another Successful Year for the “Community Read” Program

by Safety Connection

During the holiday season in 2018, then-Lieutenant-now-Captain Mike Hanson of the Madison Police Department penned an op-ed asking the community to support something more lasting than simply buying toys for children for the holidays. He was proposing a new one-on-one tutoring initiative called Community Read. Neighborhood police officers would help identify some of the struggling youth who might benefit from such a program.

A host of reasons contribute to crime. But our community’s educational achievement gap certainly looms large. When a child is not provided the tools and support to succeed, the child starts to disengage and lose interest in school.

But the more kids are consistently provided opportunities to succeed, we know we can mitigate the gap on educational attrition as well as crime. Studies have documented that when our kids get more help in reading and math, the potential for success and graduation is infinitely greater.

MPD Lt. Mike Hanson op/ed November 17, 2018

The community stepped up and donated over $25,000 through the Madison Community Policing Foundation which funded the first pilot for “Community Read” in summer 2019. Twenty young people on the southwest side of Madison participated with great results.

The hope was to grow the program in 2020 to include youth on the south side of Madison as well, but the pandemic put those plans on hold until this summer.

Last Thursday, a celebration was held for west and south side youth (and their families) who participated in this summer’s successful Community Read program.

Captain Mike Hanson gave an update on his District Blotter (8/4/21):


As you may recall, back in 2018 an editorial was written explaining the desire to divert some holiday donations to the gift that will last a lifetime. . . READING. Numerous financial donations poured into the Madison Community Policing Foundation and the “Community Read” program began in 2019. We canceled 2020 due to the pandemic, but we were back on track in 2021 and last Thursday, 7/29 we honored those students who worked hard at their reading lessons this summer.

Through the enormous efforts of Becky Kilzer and Marcia Ouchakof, retired reading specialists, and Joe Balles from the Madison Community Policing Foundation we expanded the program to include both the West and Southside youth. The youth were tutored by hired reading specialist, paid for by the community’s generosity, and showed remarkable improvements in their reading scores!!

Last Thursday there was a celebration honoring everyone’s hard work. Family members also came to the celebration to recognize their achievements!! This was a great event at the South Police District bringing together the community, the hard working youth, proud parents, tutors and the Police. The gift of reading lasts a lifetime! The gift of reading opens many new doors. We’ll do this again in 2022!!!

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