At the end of the first week of our campaign to recruit 500 reading coaches for children in kindergarten through third grade, we have good news to share: 148 Southern Arizonans have answered the call.

Thank you to the new coaches, as well as to the people who have contributed $5,565 to Reading Seed, our partner in this effort.

The Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild are working with Reading Seed, a local nonprofit program of Literacy Connects, to pair children who are behind in reading skills with volunteer coaches.

Our campaign was spurred by this month’s Star series on childhood poverty. The U.S. Census Bureau says one in three kids age 18 and younger in our city limits lives in poverty. The problem is complex and requires multiple long-term solutions — education key among them.

Coaching takes place for one hour each week during school hours. Volunteers must pass a background check.

The need for coaches is great. In the last school year, Reading Seed had about 500 coaches, each of whom works with two children, or sometimes more. The group estimates that 18,000 local kids would benefit from coaching.

If you are unable to volunteer, consider making a donation. Reading Seed needs money to train volunteers, for materials and to measure the results of its work. The Stocker Foundation will match up to $25,000 in gifts to Reading Seed.

One way to donate is to take advantage of state tax credits for money that goes either to a public school or to a program that benefits the working poor.

For details about volunteering or donating, go to seed. Or call 798-0700.

If you missed the Star’s series on childhood poverty, it’s available at