Posted Jan. 6, 2015
By Megan Sexton, USC Public Relations
Cocky's Reading Express™, the University of South Carolina's statewide literacy outreach program, has received a $25,000 donation from BP America to help Carolina students and the university mascot travel the state to spread the love of books and reading.
BP has been a consistent supporter of Cocky's Reading Express, providing more than $150,000 to the program. Previous donations have gone toward purchasing children's books, literacy materials and operational expenses. Its largest donation was used to pay for the bus used to transport Cocky and student volunteers to schools and communities around the state.
"For nearly 40 years, BP's Cooper River facility has called this community home, and it is a privilege to give back and encourage literacy through such a unique platform," said Hope Lanier, BP's government affairs representative for the Southeast. "Cocky's Reading Express has done a remarkable job of making reading fun for children across the state and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the University of South Carolina."
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Cocky's Reading Express, a collaboration between student government and the School of Library and Information Science's Center for Children's Books and Literacy. UofSC students and Cocky travel the state, visiting elementary schools across South Carolina. The students read to the children, and Cocky helps the children understand the importance of lifelong reading. Almost 77,000 books have been donated to students during visits to all 46 counties in South Carolina.
"We are so thankful for the contributions from BP that will help us as we celebrate our 10th anniversary on the road to providing 100,000 books to South Carolina children," said Kim Jeffcoat, executive director of the S.C. Center for Children's Books and Literacy, the home of Cocky's Reading Express.
The program primarily serves students in 4K through second grade because research shows that if children acquire strong reading skills and a love of reading by the end of second grade they are more likely to succeed academically and graduate on time. The program's priority is reaching students in under-served public schools. Since its founding, Cocky's Reading Express has developed into a multi-generational family literacy initiative that focuses not only upon traditional literacy skills but also life literacy skills including financial, nutritional, healthcare and environmental literacies.
"BP's consistent and generous support has allowed us to create in Cocky's Reading Express a research-focused, data-driven initiative," Jeffcoat said. "We are seeing literacy rates in South Carolina improve and are looking forward to what the next 10 years of the program will bring."