Join the ‘READ! By 4th’ campaign

Posted by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) on August 25, 2014

50 agencies launch ‘READ! By 4th’ campaign

United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey has joined with Public Citizens for Children and Youth, the Urban Affairs Coalition and other organizations to launch the READ! By 4th Campaign.

The campaign will mobilize and focus the work of fifty organizations, public and private, large and small, that have agreed to make early literacy a priority. This citywide effort to boost the share of students entering 4th grade reading at grade level enables Philadelphia to join 150 other cities and towns in 39 states that are part of the national effort, Grade Level Reading by Third, led by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and supported by some the nation’s largest companies and private foundations.

Slightly more than half of all students attending Philadelphia traditional and charter public schools enter fourth grade reading below grade level. Research shows that reading proficiency by fourth grade is an important predictor of high school and career success. Of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade, 74% struggle in later grades and are four-to-six times more likely to drop out of high school without earning a diploma.

For this reason, many of Philadelphia’s most respected public and private organizations have worked together for the last six months to craft a detailed Philadelphia strategy aimed at annually increasing the share of students reading at grade level by the time they enter fourth grade, with the goal of doubling the students prepared for 4th grade work by 2020. That benchmark means that 95 percent of all students will be on grade level by the beginning of the next decade.

National research indicates that in order to boost the share of students ready for 4th grade, public policy, resources and organizational activities must address:
* Improving the quality of early learning and child care programs
* Giving parents training and tools to help their child develop strong reading skills
* Ensuring that students continue to read over the summer break to mitigate reading skill loss
* Addressing child health and other factors contributing to school absenteeism
* Implementing research-proven reading practices in schools in ways that ensure that instruction is individualized and promotes reading progression throughout the school year.

In line with this national research, the supporting organizations have agreed to focus on one or more of the five key components of early literacy work.

To officially launch the Campaign, two corporate partners stepped forward in a big way. Wells Fargo Bank is the campaign’s founding corporate sponsor. Wells Fargo will be making substantial donations to some of the supporting organizations to enable them to expand their work as well as providing funds for some of the campaign’s communications activities aimed at motivating students to develop strong reading skills.

Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, which operates six radio stations in Philadelphia, signed up to be the founding media sponsor of the campaign. Clear Channel’s Philadelphia radio stations are among the most highly listened to by adults in the age range likely to be young parents raising their children in Philadelphia.

The campaign is currently soliciting funds and new private and public partners and organizations to run the key elements of implementing the six year strategy. Organizations wishing to play a leading implementation role or that want to lead the summer reading boost or parent education activities are invited to submit a Letter of Interest to the Campaign Steering Committee. The committee will announce the organizations selected to lead these efforts by the end of September.

For the complete list of partners joining the campaign, go here.

To submit a Letter of Interest, email

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