NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The school year is coming to a close, and while children have their minds set on summer, New Haven leaders hope to get kids back in the books. 

The city has launched a pilot program for elementary school students to provide them with extra tutoring in reading and math during the summer.  

“If a student cannot read, they cannot access the full opportunities of a K-12 curriculum,” New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said. “And, once that child falls behind, it is incredibly difficult to catch them up.” 

Data shows that during the 2021-22 school year, only 16.7% of New Haven third graders met or exceeded state literacy standards. That’s compared to 46.7% of third graders statewide. 

In math, only 13.3% of New Haven third graders met or exceeded Connecticut’s standards, compared to 47.4% statewide. 

Madeline Negron, New Haven Public Schools superintendent-elect, said literacy is crucial for graduation and beyond.  

“I want to make sure that when students graduate from New Haven public schools that they’re leaving our schools being ready for whether that is college, career, or life,” Negron said. “And we know we cannot do that without literacy skills.”  

The new program will serve nearly 600 students in the first through fifth grades 1-5. It will be incorporated into existing afterschool and summer programs. 

“Helping kids to read happens in schools, it happens after school, but it also happens at home,” said Henry Fernandez, the executive director of LEAP. 

Partnering organizations, including the United Way, the Boys and Girls Club, New Haven Reads and LEAP are forming a coalition to help with the program. 

Fernandez said that according to the third-grade literary test 86% of children are not at grade level.

The city is dedicating $3 million in federal money for the program, and is looking for nearly 200 adults to volunteer to tutor. 

To sign up, visit