Washington, DC

“Dear PoPville,

You might have read some of the recent coverage of the latest city government screw-up: Serve DC (in the mayor’s office) didn’t bother to file DC’s grant paperwork with the Corporation for National and Community Service this year, which is going to cost the city $3.75M in federal funding that goes to support the work of City Year (those nice young people in the red jackets), and two early literacy intervention nonprofits, Literacy Lab and Reading Partners.

Many studies show that it’s vitally important that kids be reading at grade level by the fourth grade. At that point, they’re no longer reading to learn to read, they’re reading to learn all their other subjects, so if they’re behind in reading by the fourth grade, they quickly end up behind in all their subjects, and they often never catch up.

In 2017, only 19% of DC’s fourth graders from low-income families could read at or above grade level. Kids who are reading at or above grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely to stay in school and graduate, creating a firm foundation to be successful in life. That’s what Literacy Lab and Reading Partners exist to do.

I’m a volunteer with Reading Partners. We were due to receive $560,000 to fund 30 AmeriCorps positions in the 2019-2020 school year. That represents 20% of our budget. Reading Partners’ model relies heavily on volunteers – we currently have more than 1000 volunteers working with more than 960 K-3 kids in 19 schools, 11 of which are east of the river. We use the subsidized AmeriCorps positions for things like our site coordinators (one full time reading center staff person per school), managing all those volunteers, and providing specialized literacy expertise. Our program is evidence-based, with a 95% success rate with our K-2 students, and an 88% success rate overall (you can learn more about our impact here).

The PoPville community can help us by:

DC is broadly a wealthy and well-educated city, but those privileges are not evenly distributed. We’re failing our kids and limiting their dreams. Early literacy intervention helps our most vulnerable, underserved kids, every one of whom is precious and deserves the best we can give them.”

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