Kristi Yamaguchi

How Kristi Yamaguchi Is Improving Literacy for Pacific Islander and Latino Kids Amid the Pandemic

Her nonprofit has increased distance-learning reading time for kids in need by 20 percent

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ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

Kristi Yamaguchi has been busy during the pandemic, NBC News reports. The Olympic-figure-skater-turned-philanthropist has been adapting to California’s remote-learning mandate in both her nonprofit work and her personal life.

Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation has been working to help increase the time kids spend reading during the coronavirus pandemic. The group provides tablets stocked with digital books, as well as internet access through a mobile data plan, to students in need. Its programs were already adapted for home learning, but with additions like virtual orientation and Facebook Live storytime, they've seen an increase of 15 to 20 percent in minutes read per day.

The organization — which focuses on California, Arizona and Hawaii — has recently provided tablets to five new schools, helping 600 students.

Literacy is a pressing issue, especially now. The National Center for Education Statistics found that 21 percent of U.S. adults, ages 16 to 65, scored at or below a 1 on a five-point scale measuring literacy outcomes. Building reading skills starts young, and COVID-19 has compounded existing challenges as working parents must juggle earning income with child care, which may include remote learning. (Yamaguchi has been helping her teenage daughters with their own remote learning.)

Access alone is a serious roadblock. In 2018, 12 percent of 3- to 18-year-old kids did not have computer internet access, according to the NCES, and this figure doesn’t account for the fact that remote learning may require children to have individual screens (nor can it account for the efficacy of remote learning in general). What remains clear is that millions of students are at risk of falling behind.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com

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