New Initiative Aims to Double Percentage of Oakland Youth Reading on Grade Level by the End of Third Grade by 2020

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oaklandreads2020PRESS CONFERENCE: MONDAY, JUNE 17, 2013 AT 10:30 AM; Oakland Marriott City Center (1001 Broadway Oakland, CA 94607)

New Initiative Aims to Double Percentage of Oakland Youth Reading on Grade Level by the End of Third Grade by 2020

City of Oakland, Oakland Unified School District and Nearly 100 Organizations Announce Oakland Reads 2020, An Initiative Aimed at Dramatically Improving Reading Proficiency for Oakland’s Youth

Oakland, CA – When kids read at grade level, especially by the end of third grade, their future is much brighter. The Mayor, Oakland Unified School District Superintendent, parents, and other community organizations and leaders gathered on June 17th to announce Oakland Reads 2020. This multi-year initiative identifies and supports solutions that increase the percentage of children reading on grade level by the end of third grade.

As its goal, Oakland Reads 2020 will bring the community together to double the percentage of children reading on grade level by the end of third grade from 42% to 85%.

“The current status quo is unacceptable,” stated Jean Quan, Mayor of the City of Oakland. “Every child in this city deserves an opportunity to learn to read and write, and we have an obligation to support solutions that will assist them. This campaign affects all of us. Successful students can reach their dreams, strengthen our local economy, and help us reduce violence in our community.”

The initiative focuses on helping students read on grade level by the end of third grade because studies show that it is one of the most important predictors for high school graduation and career success. For example, children from low-income families are 13 times less likely to graduate from high school if not reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Oakland Reads 2020 will address reading proficiency by creating a shared vision and network of early literacy resources that are accessible, collaborative, integrated and supported.

"Children reading on grade level by Grade 3 is critical to a healthy future," stated Tony Smith, Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District. "That's why we have to dedicate more of our efforts to helping kids from an early age. OUSD knows that schools and teachers cannot do it alone, and we welcome the collaborative approach of Oakland Reads 2020."

With less than half of its third graders reading on grade level, Oakland leaders decided take action and develop an effort to engage students and parents beyond the classroom. Oakland Reads 2020 focuses its efforts on four areas they believe will help increase the percentage of students reading on grade level by the end of third grade:

· School Readiness: Oakland Reads 2020 will support community-driven efforts to ensure that every child enters kindergarten ready to learn and has quality early learning opportunities.

· School Attendance: Oakland Reads 2020 will support strategies to increase school attendance and reduce chronic absence.

· Summer Learning: Oakland Reads 2020 will support access to summer activities that help Oakland’s students not to lose ground in the summer months.

· Family Engagement: Oakland Reads 2020 will support parents, grandparents and caregivers because they are the first and most important teachers and advocates for children.

“Beginning this summer, our community-driven network will build on Oakland’s collaborative spirit and identify strategies to help children read on grade level,” stated Brian Rogers, Executive Director of the Rogers Family Foundation. “We are committed to working collectively over the next seven years and to continuing to share strategies, goals and metrics for success with the community.”

Oakland Reads 2020 will also work with the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to strengthen its work. The national campaign is comprised of 124 communities committed to improving reading proficiency.

“The City of Oakland, like communities all over the United States, is showing what is possible when people come together to help children read proficiently by improving school readiness, attendance and summer learning,” stated Ralph Smith, Senior Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “I am excited to see how Oakland innovates, particularly in relation to family engagement. The city can be a model for other communities.”

While Oakland Reads 2020 is focused on early childhood education, the initiative envisions their work leading to an Oakland where students will continue to be supported until they graduate from high school and will be fully prepared for the 21st century economy.

To learn more about Oakland Reads 2020, visit www.oaklandreads.org.

About Oakland Reads 2020: Oakland Reads 2020 is a community initiative aimed at dramatically increasing the number of Oakland students reading on grade level by the end of the third grade. The network is comprised of the City of Oakland, the Oakland Unified School District and nearly 100 public and private organizations. Oakland Reads 2020 is a chapter of the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (http://gradelevelreading.net/).

Oakland Reads 2020 is currently supported by a collaborative group of funders that includes the Rogers Family Foundation, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and the East Bay Community Foundation. Oakland Reads 2020 seeks to leverage and maximize resources, and welcomes participation and matching funds from other foundations and corporations.

Contact:

Dan Cohen, Full Court Press Communications    

O: 510-465-8294; C; 510-282-7621                            

Full Court Press Communications

O:510-550-8176; C: 530-305-9427

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