All About Whiz Kids - MetroFamily Magazine
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All About Whiz Kids

by Rebecca Lucas

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

Masie Bross and her husband, Larry, started going to church downtown OKC after becoming empty-nesters 20 years ago. They were shocked at the number of homeless meals being served every month out of this new ministry. Masie was curious why there was such large population of homelessness in OKC.

Colin Powell was promoting Americas Promise in OKC and she happened to see the statistics for our inner-city kids. They were alarming then, and they are more alarming now! At the same time, she read an article in USA TODAY on reading readiness. It said that in some states, the size of prisons a decade in the future can be arepredicted from 4th grade reading failure rates. In Oklahoma, at that time 69% of our 4th graders were reading below proficiency level. Now, 74% of our 4th graders are reading below level.

As a result of this information, they started Whiz Kids in 1994, a faith based tutoring program focused on teaching elementary kids to read. Since then, it has been her passion to inform others of the need for caring adults to move out of their comfort zones in the suburbs to help at-risk kids in the inner-city. Today, there are 54 churches partnered with Whiz Kids, bringing 1,000 volunteers to tutor almost 800 kids who might fail without them.

Name of Organization:
Whiz Kids
923 N. Robinson

Describe the mission of your non-profit:

Recruit 2nd graders reading below proficiency level, keep them until leaving in 5th grade to raise reading scores.

How does it impact families and children, whether locally or elsewhere?

Learning to read, as well as seeing the importance of education, has the potential to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy.

What drives you to make this non-profit a success?

I see hopelessness in many families with no resources as well as no help for their kids. I see that change to hope when a tutor meets every week with the same child to give them hope for the future.

What success stories or accomplishments has this non-profit achieved?

For the 2006-2007 school year, Whiz Kids in 4th grade out performed a matched group of students by 58 points on the Oklahoma State Tests.

How can families and children help this non-profit?

Every school has a waiting list for tutors. Adults 18 and older should volunteer. It will change your life! It changed mine!

What led you to work for this nonprofit?

Becoming aware of the great need in the Oklahoma City Area. There are 20,000 kids who need help now!

What was your best day so far?

There is a cute, small 4th grade boy in Whiz Kids. This is his 3rd year. He works so hard and loves Whiz Kids. When his mother tried to better herself by going back to school. Dad kicked them both out. Every week we don’t know if he is at the shelter, on the street or a family members house. When I see him at Whiz Kids, I know what a huge effort has been made by his mother to get him there. It’s my best day ever to see him!

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