The Problem We Are Tackling

The Income Gap

Employees without a high school diploma earn an average of $23,000 year, which deeply affects their ability to break the cycle of poverty. Every student who leaves high school without a diploma costs our society $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity.

Literacy Facts

Girl reading 2For years, the percentage of the nation’s fourth graders in public school who can read proficiently has hovered at around 35 percent. Children who cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade are four times less likely to graduate on time — hindering their chances to live a happy, healthy, productive life. More stunning, one in three students was shown to be reading “below basic” proficiency — functionally illiterate.

For students from low-income families, the situation is even more dire: 82 percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunches cannot read with proficiency. Without these skills by fourth grade, students are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

According to the US Department of Education, 60 percent of America’s prison inmates are illiterate and 85 percent of all juvenile offenders have reading problems.

Nearly 9 Million Kids Affected

Every state in the nation has large percentages of students who are unable to read at grade level. In fact, nationally more than 8.7 million low-income students in kindergarten through fifth grade are not proficient in reading — the equivalent of the entire populations of Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and Atlanta. If students do not receive effective interventions early by second grade, the less likely they are to ever become grade-level readers. With proper evidence-based interventions in the early grades, children can become average or better readers.

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