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This Boston-based literacy group is helping kids read through the pandemic

Literations adult volunteer Michelle Cherry tutors second grader Envoy Rivas at Blackstone Innovation School in Boston.
Literations adult volunteer Michelle Cherry tutors second grader Envoy Rivas at Blackstone Innovation School in Boston.Matt Roth/Matt Roth for AARP Experience Co

The three-decades-old Boston literacy nonprofit Generations Incorporated is walking into its new era with a fresh name: Literations.

Executive director Wes Enicks said the branding captures the organization’s goal to raise the literacy and comprehension in Boston-area students, with the help of adult volunteer tutors. The name itself — Literations — is a play on words, a combination of “literacy” and “generations.”

“Our name is new, but our commitment to learning is not,” he said in a phone interview.

In Enicks’s opinion, the Literations name also centers their mission of “empowering young readers” through formal literacy training, instruction, and assessments. That separates them from other educational groups that focus on reading support or book groups.

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Literations currently works with 250 students virtually, during and after school hours at Boston Public Schools, Revere Public Schools, and the Boys and Girls Club of Boston. It manages 160 volunteers.

Volunteers between 40 and 90 years old spend at least six hours over two days each week with participants.

Enicks hopes Literations will bounce back to pre-pandemic numbers soon with in-person or hybrid meetings. Then the group helped 750 to 1,000 students regularly.

This month’s name change accompanies a shift in curriculum and purpose, as part of Literation’s Read to Grow Strategic Plan. That program aims to help a larger swath of students in kindergarten through third grade who read below their grade level. It’s especially timely in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, which wreaked havoc on the traditional schooling model and caused many students to fall behind.

The new Literations plan includes additional time for oral reading skills to address these gaps.

“A lot of early research shows that the greatest way to make up for that [pandemic] learning loss is to address it through individualized coaching and support,” Enicks said. “That’s what we provide.”

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The program is proven to improve students’ reading scores by an average of 1.5 grade levels.

Today, the organization also has a renewed focus on racial and educational equity. “We know that the ability to read is not the only barrier to student success,” Enicks said.

In 2018, Literations (www.literations.org) began chipping away at diversity, equity, and inclusion goals like ensuring equitable pay and far-reaching, representative hiring practices. With the recent rebranding, the organizers brought those values into the mission statement.

“Our new visual identity reflects our values, Equity, Potential, Inspiration, and Community,” the website reads.

Diti Kohli can be reached at diti.kohli@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ditikohli_.