Neighbors in Action: Energizing Education

Feb 10, 2016

We’ve talked about the importance of literacy on Current State before, but there’s a relatively new organization we haven’t yet heard from. Energizing Education was created to ensure all children in Jackson County are reading at or above grade level by the 4th grade. We speak with Program Manager Kriss Giannetti about the creative ways they help kids become strong readers.


Literacy is an extremely important factor in a child’s success. The longer a kids spends reading below their grade level, the harder it is for her to catch up as she get older.

For this week’s Neighbors in Action segment we’re looking at a organization that works to improve children’s literacy skills in Jackson County.

Energizing Education came to be under a partnership with non-profit organization United Way. The program now helps in seven different schools throughout the county.

Program coordinator Kris Giannetti says one of the main goals of Energizing Education is to get all students reading by third grade.

“We had done a lot of work in the community working to raise scholarship money for college,” says Giannetti. “Then we heard quite a bit that the kids weren’t ready, and we started to shift our focus towards earlier on [in their education.]

Reaching both kids and their families are a core part of Energizing Education’s mission.

“We really believe that it doesn’t just take the schools to help kids learn to read – it takes the family too,” says Giannetti. “We want to give parents some tools, to find ways to read with their children, and to instill a love for reading.”

The organization hosts themed “Family Night” events to get parents to come into the school that may not otherwise.

Energizing Education relies on its volunteer mentors to help provide a comfortable learning atmosphere for the students.

CEO of Industrial Steel Tim Levy has been a mentor for two years and says the time he’s invested has been well worth it.

“It’s rewarding when they have a ‘Aha!’ moment,” says Levy. “When they get something…it just takes off from there.”

Giannetti says the data they’ve collected shows students who participate in Energizing Education are having more of those ‘Aha!’ moments. Out of all 154 students in the program last year, reading scores improved over 6 percent on average, she says.

More information on Energizing Education can be found on their website, or on their Facebook page.

Article by Ethan J. Merrill, Current State Web Intern 

Current State is looking for more nominations for our “Neighbors In Action” feature. Please help us out and e-mail us your suggestions to currentstate@wkar.org. Put ‘Neighbors in Action’ in the subject line. Or tweet us: @KARCurrentState and tell us a little about why you think they should be featured for the great work they do.