ReadNYC: Books from Birth and Once Upon a Summer
A child’s ability to read by third grade directly impacts his or her future. Third grade is the year kids move from learning to read to reading to learn. Unfortunately, children from low-income families often don’t have access to quality education. In fact, research shows us that children from low-income families may hear up to 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers by age three, and more than 60% of low-income families don’t have children’s books at home. Inevitably, this gap and lack of books impacts children’s performance at school: sadly in New York City, six out of 10 students are not reading on grade-level. Moreover, children who don’t read on grade-level by third grade are 74% more likely to drop out of high school-more likely to find themselves struggling to make ends meet as adults and continuing a devastating cycle of poverty.
To break this cycle of poverty, we know we must help families and communities as a whole, from the child who can’t read, to the educators who are under-resourced, to the parents who can’t make ends meet. At United Way of New York City, we take a two-generation approach; helping children and their parents so that the whole family has a chance to succeed. The root of this success is accessing the proper education. When UWNYC began our ReadNYC program in 2013 in Mott Haven, only-9% of 3rd graders in that community were reading on grade level. By 2018, 43% of participating third graders in ReadNYC were reading proficiently. But there is still more to do.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has stripped bare the consequences of educational inequity and the challenges of remote education for low-income children in hard hit communities, The Power of Women Luncheon will support two core components of ReadNYC: Books from Birth, an initiative of ReadNYC that ensures low-income children have culturally relevant and age appropriate books—the essential tools they need to achieve academically and Once Upon a Summer (OUS), a comprehensive six-week summer learning program that engages students, families, and staff across five (5) schools in rigorous and fun activities that position them for greater school success.