Think back to the first time you read a book on your own. Then recall the first book you really loved, maybe devouring it in one day or rereading it year after year.
Now imagine you’d never had those experiences, never learned to read at a level that enabled you to read to learn. That frustrating scenario is a stark reality for thousands of children in Wake County today.
Reading proficiency in third grade serves as a predictor of school drop-out rates and incarceration levels. Children who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers – and the predictions are even worse for students living in poverty. More than 6 million children nationally are at increased risk for dropping out of high school because they can’t read proficiently.
Wake County isn’t exempt from these stats. Two-thirds of Wake County’s children have no books or reading resources at home, only half of incoming kindergartners are read to daily and less than a third of incoming kindergarten students are proficient on the initial reading comprehension assessments. In 2015, 31 percent of third graders in Wake County were not reading at grade level – that’s an improvement over past years, but still not acceptable.
At ChildTrust Foundation, our investments focus on education, literacy and early childhood interventions that impact North Carolina’s most vulnerable children, specifically from birth through age eight. As the charitable arm of Investors Management Corporation, the Foundation believes that strategic investments in advocacy and direct service can lead to systemic changes that will positively impact children’s lives for generations to come. Our involvement with organizations across North Carolina goes beyond financial gifts to include collaboration, networking and capacity-building to ensure greater success.
Our support of WakeEd Partnership centers on reading pipeline efforts as part of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading work happening in communities across the country. As one of the lead organizations in WAKE Up and Read (Wake County’s local Campaign for Grade-Level Reading), WakeEd is collaborating with schools, volunteers, families and community organizations to coordinate efforts and provide resources to improve early literacy skills. WakeEd also worked with educators to create the Literacy Tool Kits, which have bilingual tools for parents to bring reading home to their families. With bilingual books and worksheets, parents have the tools they need to help their child increase reading competency.
ChildTrust Foundation is proud to join with WakeEd Partnership and other partners across the state to engage our community in removing barriers, expanding opportunities, and assisting schools and families to ensure that every child is ready to read and ready to succeed.
Cyndi Soter O’Neil
Senior Policy Advisor