Joyful Readers: Building Confidence and Literacy in Philadelphia Schools

Jun 25, 2024 | Spotlight, Tutoring Companies

Joyful Readers, a Philadelphia based non-profit tutoring organization, focuses on providing tutoring to students in kindergarten through third grade across the city’s low-income schools, with a primary focus on black and brown students. David Weinstein, founder of Joyful Readers explains, “Philadelphia is unfortunately referred to as the ‘poorest big city’ in America. Our schools and families often have fewer resources and that is reflected in our students’ learning. Joyful Readers focuses on students who aren’t reading on grade level yet, and we’re there to provide them with the extra support they need to get on track.”

Through partnerships with both public and charter schools, Joyful Readers identifies and supports students who are struggling with reading. These students receive daily in-person tutoring sessions from highly-trained AmeriCorps instructors.

Diverse and Well-Trained Tutors

  • Joyful Readers’ AmeriCorps tutors come from a variety of racial and generational backgrounds with 46% Black, 34% White, 11% Multiracial, 7% Latinx, and 2% Asian, ranging in ages from 18-66 years old.
  • Tutors spend 30 minutes per day, 5 times per week with their students.
  • Tutor candidates must apply each year and those that are selected participate in a month-long, pre-service training program that covers topics such as youth development, curriculum implementation, and inclusionary practices.
  • A core element of the training is the Wilson FundationsⓇcurriculum, for which tutors receive publisher-approved training.
  • All tutors have the opportunity to take a graduate-level course in reading instruction, with Joyful Readers covering the cost for those who choose to pursue the credits.

Closing the Reading Gap with Measurable Results 

An independent study by Research for Action, a third-party education research firm, found that Joyful Readers students’ literacy scores improved 8 percentage points during the 2022-2023 school year, outpacing the growth that would be expected in a typical school year. Students not only improved in reading, but also made meaningful progress towards closing the gap between their assessment scores and the national median score of students in the same grade.

Students Make Gains Exceeding a Typical Year’s Growth

Here’s a closer look at the impressive results:

  • Joyful Readers’ students began the school year reading at the 22nd percentile and ended the year at the 30th percentile.
  • On average, Joyful Readers’ students received 31 hours of tutoring and grew more in reading than a typical student in the same grade.

Tracking Success with the Pearl Tutor Management System

Joyful Readers utilizes the Pearl Tutor Management System TMS) to streamline data collection and effectively measure program success for over 850 students in 15 schools. According to Weinstein, “The Pearl system allows us to track a variety of metrics, including student attendance, dosage (minutes spent tutoring), and pre/post assessments. This data is essential for demonstrating the impact of our program to stakeholders.” Pearl also facilitates communication between tutors, program coordinators, and school personnel, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding student progress.

Looking to the Future

Joyful Readers’ vision is to ensure that every struggling reader in Philadelphia has access to a tutor. In the 2024-2025 school year, they aim to expand their program to serve 1,000 students and bring on 50 new tutors. 

Joyful Readers’ data-driven approach, well-trained tutors, and focus on building relationships with students are contributing to significant gains in reading proficiency for Philadelphia’s young learners. The Pearl Tutor Management System plays a critical role in enabling them to track progress and measure success across the program.

To learn more about Joyful Readers or to make a donation, visit:



This is default text for notification bar