Everyday Hero: ABCs mean S-U-C-C-E-S-S

Last Updated: Monday, April 15, 2013, 7:58 AM EDT

The most educated people across the country know that success starts with A, B and C.

Ph.D.'s, M.D.'s and other professionals agree an early love of reading paves the way for a better life.

St. Petersburg lawyer Lucas Fleming wanted to give that power to students in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

In 2003, after seeing too many defendants lacking education, he founded Lawyers for Literacy.

The non-profit organization pairs lawyers and other professionals with third graders struggling to pass the reading portion of the FCAT, the state-wide standardized test.

"This is the first time a child can fail a grade, so the pressure is on," he said.

The group started with seven students. This year, the group works with 120 students.

For one hour a week for 12 weeks, the students and "teachers" work on the essential skills needed to pass the exam and move on to fourth grade.

"It's certainly a small step, but it prevents some kids from having to repeat and they are getting on with their education," he said.

Lawyers for Literacy gives each child their own book bag.

Over the last decade, the group has provided more than 9,000 books to 400 students and 200 tutors.

So far, 94 percent of students who worked with Lawyers for Literacy passed the test and continued on fourth grade.

"I just started with an idea and a group of people. It grew from that to what it is today. It's not an incredibly large organization, but it is a meaningful and impactful organization," he said.