Research shows that reading proficiently by the end of third grade enables students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn, and to master the more complex subject matter they encounter in the fourth grade curriculum. Most students who fail to reach this critical milestone falter in the later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma. Yet two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders are not proficient readers, according to national reading assessment data. This disturbing statistic is made even worse by the fact that more than four out of every five low-income students miss this critical milestone.
In the 11 counties United Way serves, nearly 24% of 3rd grade students failed the reading SOL in 2016. In several localities, the pass rate was as low as 61-64%. Kids who are living in poverty and students of color are less likely to have access to supports needed to be ready for kindergarten, by third-grade are more likely to be falling behind, and are less likely to graduate from high-school on time. We must ensure all young people in our community are meeting these critical milestones, if we want the Greater Richmond region to thrive.
That’s why, in 2016, United Way, in partnership with regional school districts, nonprofits, libraries, universities, philanthropists and corporate partners, launched the Greater Richmond Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which is aimed at increasing the number of kids in the Greater Richmond & Petersburg region who are reading proficiently by 3rd grade.
The Greater Richmond Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative of public, private, and nonprofit sector organizations focused on increasing 3rd grade reading proficiency across the Greater Richmond region These organizations work together to improve the following priority outcomes through action networks convened by three lead organizations: (1) School Readiness (Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond); (2) Attendance (Bridging Richmond); and (3) Elementary Literacy and Summer Learning (United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg).
- The Literacy Collaborative Action Network (CAN) is convened by United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, with Bridging Richmond serving as the data and continuous improvement partner. View Literacy CAN charge, meeting notes, etc. here.
- The Attendance Collaborative Action Network (CAN) is convened by Bridging Richmond with Richmond Public Schools serving as the convening school district. View Attendance CAN charge, meeting notes, etc. here.
- The School Readiness Coalition is convened by Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond with Bridging Richmond serving as the data and continuous improvement partner. View Smart Beginnings’ Regional Plan here.