Philly’s $30 Million Early Literacy Push

Teaching kids how to read at an early age is one way of troubleshooting literacy challenges or problems. That is why school districts throughout Pennsylvania have been allotting an large parts of their budgets to push their early literacy programs and endeavors.

40 school districts sent almost 700 kindergarten to 3rd grade teachers to Martin Luther King High School, East Germantown for a week-long summer institute. In the institute, the teachers were taught and trained regarding the best practices that can help students learn how to read. The workshop also included topics about awareness on phonics and phonemics, how to engage family members in reading, and how to create a literacy-rich atmosphere in the classroom.

The week-long session for professional development was the starting point of Philadelphia's public schools $30 million effort to increase the literacy rate of students. They are aiming to raise the number of students who, by age 8, can read proficiently.

The school districts acquired the funding through grants from several charitable organizations. Some of them included:

  • William Penn Foundation established in 1945, William Penn Foundation is a grant-making foundation founded by business man Otto Haas and his wife Phoebe. The foundation was initially called the Phoebe Waterman Foundation. The foundation gave a generous amount of $6 million to help push this early literacy project.
  • Lenfest Foundation established by Gerry Lenfest, a media mogul. It is a Philadelphia-focused foundation and gives funds mainly in the education area. The foundation provided a grant of $4.5 million to help support the district’s goals.

With the project’s overall budget, an estimated number of 2,000 teachers and 48,000 students in more than 100 city schools will eventually be reached. The project will also provide a literacy coach that will work full-time as well as expanded libraries in classrooms within the schools who participate this year.

The literacy coaches will work hand-in-hand with the principals. They will also model the best teaching practices in the classroom to help teachers recognize the needs of each student. The classroom libraries will be equipped according to the ability or literacy level of the students. The libraries will also provide books that the students can take home.

With Philly’s $30 million push on early literacy, it is possible that in the future, children as young as 8 years old will be able to read with proficiency. Also, with such an effort, literacy problems and challenges will eventually diminish, at least in the Philly area.

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