The America Reads Challenge is an initiative started in 1996 by the Clinton Administration. In August 1996, President Clinton proposed a national literacy campaign that would enlist “one million volunteer tutors ready and able to give children the personal attention they need to catch up and get ahead.” The federal government would play a crucial but limited role as a catalyst in building the President’s “citizen army” of reading tutors.
The federal role builds on a creative use of existing programs. Key among these is the Department of Education’s work-study program, which in 1996 provided $617 million to support part-time employment for 713,000 students at 3,400 colleges and universities. In November 1996, President Clinton announced that the federal government would waive this requirement and pay 100 percent of wages for any student employed as tutor for preschool and elementary school children.
President Clinton’s America Reads Work-Study Challenge (October 21, 1997)
In 1997 President Clinton issued a Presidential Directive to the Department and the National Science Foundation to work together to devise an action strategy for using Federal resources in support of improving student performance. The result of this joint effort was the creation of America Counts
President Clinton’s Call to Action (December 9, 1999)