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Knight Foundation grant boosts Read Charlotte child literacy
Funds expands Transformation Network outreach
Published Thursday, May 23, 2019 10:51 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

A three-year, $600,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will allow Read Charlotte to work with students at 30 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools through the literacy initiative's Transformation Network.

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A Charlotte children’s literacy initiative is expanding its reach in public schools.

A three-year, $600,000 grant from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will allow Read Charlotte to work with 18 more schools and double the number of volunteers. The Knight money will allow the initiative to grow its Transformation Network, a group of school partnerships in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The network will increase the number of under-resourced schools it works with from 12 to 30 and launch a recruitment program to double the number of volunteer tutors to serve 1,500 students. It will also expand programming to enable families to support reading development at home.

“The Read Charlotte Transformation Network has worked tirelessly to improve early literacy in this community, and our top priority right now is scaling these efforts,” said Munro Richardson, Read Charlotte’s executive director. “This new funding from Knight Foundation equips us to respond to community requests to bring more schools into the Transformation Network and grow our efforts.”

Read Charlotte’s goal is to increase third-graders’ reading proficiency from 39 percent to 80 percent by 2025. Reading proficiency at third grade is considered a predictor of academic, career and life success. Studies have found students who don’t read at grade level by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

“The Charlotte community has rallied around Read Charlotte’s mission, demonstrating that children’s literacy is a key local priority,” said Charles Thomas, Knight Foundation’s Charlotte program director. “Knight Foundation hopes to build on this momentum, supporting a promising initiative that engages all members of the community and promotes literacy, an important prerequisite for building a more informed Charlotte.”

The Transformation Network launched last year at 12 schools. In less than a year, 50 partners worked with schools to coordinate distribution of 23,981 books to 4,000 students at “Book-A-Palooza” events. In addition, they hosted 17 Family Literacy Nights, where over 1,000 parents learned effective ways to support their children’s reading at home; and they recruited 152 volunteers to provide fluency tutoring to almost 200 third-graders.  

Earlier this year, Read Charlotte launched its second annual “Commit to 80” campaign, in which nearly 1,300 residents pledged their commitment to reaching the 80 percent proficiency goal by carrying out specific, evidence-based practices and strategies.

Read Charlotte has to raise an additional $3.9 million for the remainder of the 10-year initiative.

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