There are 40 programs on the map. Over half of the programs (58.5 percent) started after 2010. The majority of the programs (28) provide parent education or family support. Other programs (18) have school- or center-based initiatives. Eighteen programs use public media partnerships, and another 17 are geared toward professional learning for educators. Fifteen programs are connected to a museum, library, or community center. Two are health care initiatives and two are a part of an afterschool program.
The various approaches we saw show the many options that communities can use to engage young children and their families. In many cases, the aim is to build an ecosystem of support so children can grow up to be learners who are adept at using and understanding many different resources. Librarians, family engagement coordinators, home visitors, pediatricians, early childhood educators, and other professionals who interact with young children all can help families learn about the best ways to promote healthy development.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
The Campaign is a collaboration of foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states, and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on an important predictor of school success and high school graduation: grade-level reading by the end of third grade.
Research shows that proficiency in reading 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 fourth grade. Most students who fail to reach this critical milestone falter in later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma. Yet two-thirds of American 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.
Although schools must be accountable for helping all children achieve and providing effective teaching for all children in every classroom every day, the Campaign is based on the belief that schools cannot succeed alone. Engaged communities mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents in fulfilling their role as full partners in the success of their children are needed to assure student success.
Ready to Learn 2015–2020
Ready to Learn is an initiative based on a cooperative agreement funded and managed by the U.S Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. It supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families. Its goal is to promote early learning and school readiness, with particular focus on reaching low-income children. In addition to creating television and other media products, the program supports activities intended to promote national distribution of the programming, effective educational uses of the programming, community outreach, and research on education effectiveness.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) have received funding from the Ready to Learn initiative.
Twenty-nine programs said that their goal was to reach low-income children. Sixteen programs are geared toward dual language learners or English learners. Seven of the programs focus on children with special needs. Refugee families, incarcerated parents, and rural communities are also target populations for individual programs. Others identified the general public or community as their audience.
Thirty-nine of the programs offer English. Twenty-eight programs offer Spanish, and six programs use other languages, such as Arabic or Mandarin. One program includes American Sign Language, depending on the needs of participants. Another program is focused on building children’s knowledge in Alaska Native language and is not offered in English.
On the map, we recorded the number of programs that serve each age group, from birth through age eight (B—8). The majority of programs focus on serving three- to five-year-olds. Twenty or more programs serve children in each year of the B—8 spectrum.
Number of Children Served
Twenty-one programs serve fewer than 1,000 children; eleven programs serve more than 10,000 children.
Early learning and family engagement programs need stable funding in order to make a long-term impact on the communities they serve. The majority of programs are funded through multiple sources, including through philanthropy (23) or the federal government (20). Sixteen programs are funded by state government and nine are funded by local government. Seven programs either require participants to pay tuition or program fees or are funded by private donors. Nine programs accept individual donations.