PCAT Founder and Executive Director Christene Worley was a corporate marketing manager for 15 years, traveling throughout the United States. For the past 17 years, she has been dedicated to assisting non-profit organizations meet the needs of poor and underserved communities and individuals.
While working within the corporate sector, she volunteered at a Vacation Bible School session at her church and noticed that low-income fourth- and fifth-grade children had difficulty reading and writing, unable to read very simple sentences. Ms. Worley found this to be unacceptable. How could this be? What was going to happen to their futures? She vowed she would find a way to assist these children.
Through her research, she found that many low-income children come from one-parent households. As a family’s sole provider, many parents are unable to spend quality time with their children. As a single parent, Ms. Worley understood the challenges single parents face. Balancing work and home responsibilities is difficult at best, with little time for reading with their children every day. Another disturbing factor emerged. Many parents have the same literacy issues as their children and need extra assistance to help their children succeed in school.
Ms. Worley was determined to break this cycle of illiteracy. She left the corporate sector and created an after-school literacy program for primary grade students (k-2) that are struggling with reading and reading comprehension. She knew that if children cannot read by the time they are in the third grade, they will have an unsuccessful school experience, with the probability of dropping out of High School.
Ms. Worley formed a partnership with Sulphur Springs Community School and began PCAT in 2003, while with a different non-profit in Tampa, Florida. To expand and assist even more children, Ms. Worley formed the non-profit agency, PCAT Literacy Ministries, in 2010. While continuing to assist students at Sulphur Springs Community School, PCAT expanded to Ruskin and Wimauma, Florida, where she formed partnerships with Ruskin and Wimauma Elementary Schools.
Since its inception, PCAT Literacy Ministries has assisted nearly 2,000 students to become competent readers and to move forward to the next grade, giving them the opportunity to become successful adults.