As of 2017, less than half of Rhode Island third graders were proficient in reading, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Race for Results
report, released last October showed even more literacy challenges for Latino/a students in the state. According to the Race for Results’ “Opportunity Index,” which includes reading proficiency, Rhode Island’s Latino/a children are doing the worst in the nation.
In the face of these statistics, two GCRI funders, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island, have stepped forward to support and lead the work toward grade level reading proficiency.
The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading recognized Newport, RI as one of 29 “Pacesetter” communities in the country, highlighting the city’s progress on key indicators of early school success.
Newport’s work on early literacy is highlighted by cross-sector collaboration, including the city, school districts, nonprofit agencies, private organizations and state agencies, including an extensive partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Health. The work has been supported by GCRI member van Beuren Charitable Foundation, among other funding streams.
The Newport program provides resources beginning at birth, with letters to new parents with suggestions on how to build early language development by reading, talking, singing and playing; bags containing books and resource guides with information on programs to support early development and literacy; and links to parent support and educational programs, and home visiting programs.
Rhode Island Reads, a statewide collaboration led by United Way of Rhode Island and Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, teamed up with the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children to build awareness of the need for high-quality early learning opportunities for young children by organizing reading events in early learning programs across the state. Thirty-six guest readers participated — 26 state legislators and 10 community leaders, including the Director of the Department of Human Services, the Director of the Department of Labor and Training, and members of United Way of Rhode Island’s Women United Leadership Group. Photos
Rhode Island Reads has also released its 2018 Advocacy Agenda, focusing on legislation and funding in the areas of school readiness, summer learning, chronic absence and learning to read.