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A Bad Rap for RAP

Funding for literacy program snuffed.

February 24, 2011
Debra Lordan

DHS cancelled RAP’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding, a federal program that supplied 95 percent of its resources for the services they intended to provide for 12 Hawai‘i schools this semester.

RAA President Jed Gaines said RAP acquired a six-year funding grant, but DHS decided to toss the program, even though the department has “choices on how the federal TANF funds should be allocated.”

Striving to build “families of lifetime readers,” RAP brings keiki and their ‘ohana together for literacy RAP sessions during scheduled evenings throughout the school year. Every other week during a school semester—cleverly disguised as a pizza party with trivia games and prizes—RAP attracts approximately 350 students and parents to reading like moths to a flame.

According to Gaines, the literacy program he founded in Hawai‘i has reached a total of 240,000 adults and children since its inception 12 years ago and nearly 49,000 in statewide in the past year. Its first session on Maui drew over 2,200 parents, students and volunteers at four participating schools.

With diminishing resources for public education, RAP bridges the gap for those who don’t have a family heritage of literacy or a burning desire to read. The RAP program helps parents become active and effective partners with their kids to spark enthusiasm for learning and help them discover the joy of reading.

RAP extends the goals of the classroom into the home while strengthening family bonds and opening channels of communication between schools and homes.

At upcoming RAP sessions, representatives from the program will unveil the “Help Save RAP” campaign.

One of the Maui Weekly’s top picks for Hui of the Year 2010, the family-based RAP program on Maui has successfully provided free family fun that builds educated citizens for the future.

Shouldn’t we fan the flames of that success, not extinguish a powerful program that encourages the enjoyment of reading?

“The question is whether all of us—as citizens, and as parents—are willing to do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed,” President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address in January. “That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child… ”



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