Kinder2College Students
Kinder2College student Bryan Merino reads a super hero book while Cesar Padillo chows on some pizza during the unveiling of a "Little Free Library" in the University Gardens housing complex. | PHOTO BY DAVID SPRAGUE

Children come to the University Park Campus on Saturday mornings by the dozens, all in the name of books. Now, thanks to a $1 million gift to USC Kinder 2 College, many more Los Angeles kids will boost their reading skills at the most critical time in their lives.

USC’s Kinder 2 College program helps children ages 5 and up from surrounding neighborhoods become proficient in reading and writing by the end of third grade. The new gift doubles the number of participating children to 200. The funds, provided by philanthropist Pamela Buffett, also will kick off new afterschool sessions in neighborhood elementary schools.

The support is critical to the children’s future, because kids who can’t read proficiently by third grade are more likely to drop out of high school, says Thomas Sayles, USC senior vice president for university relations. “The more children we can reach now, the more students we can ultimately prepare for USC or other top universities.”

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