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Team Read

The Urban Haven Project

As Jeremiah points out, everyone’s well-being is connected, no matter where we live. The Urban Haven Project and its work in Shelby County schools lives out this Scriptural truth. Our involvement began a decade ago as an Adopt-A-School partner with a single north-Memphis school–Caldwell Elementary. Since then, this mission offered many volunteer opportunities for church members throughout the year, but its primary focus is providing reading support for elementary students. We co-developed the Team Read program for second graders and have coaches or tutors in two elementary schools—Memphis Scholars at Caldwell-Guthrie and Belle Forest throughout the school year. The Urban Haven Project also includes a Weekend Backpack Program and Project Transformation, a summer tutoring program that supports underserved children and families, and connect churches to communities in need to engage young adults in purposeful leadership and ministry.

Team Read

The Team Read concept of tutoring or coaching developed by GUMC volunteers and Caldwell-Guthrie professionals was so successful at helping children learn the 1,000 foundational words of reading that Shelby County Schools (SCS) adopted it as the model for its schools.  Without knowing these foundational or sight (or Fry) words instantly no one can read.

A study by SCS showed second graders who were coached gained nearly 200 more foundational words in a year than students who had no coaching. In addition, coached students performed statistically better on SAT II reading skill tests than non-coached students. GUMC first year results at Caldwell-Guthrie showed 73% of students gained 200 words or more (two Fry word levels), and our subsequent years were just as impressive.

GUMC’s Team Read includes more than 65 coaches during the year — providing second graders with a coach twice a week.

For information on Team Read contact GUMC Head Coach Jackie Flaum at

If you are interested in becoming a coach at GUMC OR if your faith-based group wants to start a Team Read program please download the PDFs below. All materials are free for other faith-based groups to use and copy or adapt.


Weekend Food Program

Germantown UMC volunteers began a program in April of 2013, to provide food on the weekends to food-insecure children—children who often do not know where or what they will have to eat on the weekend. Currently, we are serving 350 children (identified as those most in need) due to the generosity of many in our church and community!

It takes $300 to sponsor one child for the school year. The food comes from the Mid-South Food Bank and is a nutritional assortment of cereal, fruits, vegetables, milk, juice, rice, protein foods; all child-friendly, and easy to prepare! The volunteer team packs the food and delivers it to Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary School, and the children receive the food on Friday afternoon—6 meals for the weekend!

Here are what some of the parents of these children told the Food Bank:

“It helps him to understand the importance of food. I always tell him not to throw any food away. He looks forward to Friday every week. It is an awesome program.”

“…I worried about how I was going to stretch what food I had for my children. I don’t have to worry. My children get healthy and wholesome foods each weekend.”

To support a child, give a check payable to GUMC and note it is for “Weekend Food Program.” Questions? Contact Barbara Schanson at .

Project Transformation

If you have a passion for helping children improve their literacy and develop a love of reading, there is definitely a place for you.

Project Transformation’s mission is to support underserved children and families, and connect churches to communities in need to engage young adults in purposeful leadership and ministry.

Project Transformation (PT) in its entirety seeks: 1) to meet the academic, physical, and spiritual needs of children from low-income communities; 2) to help revitalize churches; and 3) to provide meaningful ways for college-age young adults to explore ministry opportunities and develop as young principled leaders for the church and the world.

The first of the three-prong approach is where we as members of GUMC can help. Throughout the summer children, particularly children from low income families, often experience summer reading loss. It is these students who can least afford to lose the reading gains they’ve achieved during the school year. They fall the farthest behind when they return to the classroom after a summer break away from formal literacy instruction. Part of the mission of Project Transformation is to stop summer reading loss.

While children and youth in underserved neighborhoods participate in a free summer day camp programs that are planned and implemented by young adult interns, local churches partner with PT to serve as volunteers reading one-on-one with children. Project Transformation’s programs are strategically housed in churches in low-income communities. This partnership between the site churches and PT is designed so that churches can make new connections and form meaningful relationships with families in their immediate neighborhood.

In the summer of 2016, we helped children in the Longstreet United Methodist Church and Centenary United Methodist Church communities keep the progress made during this last school year.

Get Involved

If you are interested in becoming a coach at GUMC OR if your faith-based group wants to start a Team Read program please download the PDFs below. All materials are free for other faith-based groups to use and copy or adapt.

Team Read Q&A (PDF)

– A short Q&A introduction to the program.

Update Materials  |  August 2016

We have update material for Team Read Coaches.