United Way Working to Move the Needle on Early-Grade Literacy

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April 25, 2018
Delaware faces a literacy crisis. According to (Department of Education and American Community Survey), only 37% of public school children within our promise communities (some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods) are reading at the appropriate level when they enter fourth grade. And in Wilmington, the fourth-grade literacy rate is a jaw dropping 18%. Experts say that if a child is not reading on grade level by fourth grade, he or she is likely to struggle throughout school and is far more likely to become a high school dropout. The consequences impact us all.
 
This is a priority for us at United Way of Delaware. To address this crisis, we are collaborating with the State Department of Education, the Christina, Red Clay and Brandywine School Districts, Parents as Teachers, Nemours, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, and others to launch a comprehensive literacy improvement initiative that we call, Moving The Needle.
 
Moving the Needle is a multi-year program to provide an integrated suite of year-round academic and social supports for a cohort of 500 students from some of Wilmington’s most vulnerable communities. The program will begin with 137 kindergarten students and will grow each year for four years. Students in the cohort will receive:
 
·     Nemours' proven BrightStart! early learning curriculum
·     Out-of-school literacy enrichment programming
·     Summer literacy programs, including scholarships to attend literacy-rich summer camps
·     Strong family engagement activities and incentive strategies
·     Wraparound social services to address any underlying developmental or situational issues
 
The goal of Moving The Needle is to ensure that our children are reading at or above the state average when they enter fourth grade. To accomplish this initiative on behalf of our children, it will require the hands of the collective. Can we count on you?
 
To chat more about Moving The Needle please contact Michelle Taylor directly at mtaylor@uwde.org.
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