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April 2, 2020

Nonprofit Launches Critical Student Support Including Literacy Tips and Activities Via Text

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Julia Strasdauskas

Managing Director, Collins + Co.

(443) 299-­7751 | julia@collins-company.com

(Oakland, CA) Wednesday, April 1, 2020 

Reading Partners, an early literacy nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing community volunteers to tutor students in under-resourced schools, today announces its partnership with Bright by Text to provide content-rich, literacy focused text messages to parents and caregivers to help support young students. The family texting program was quickly expanded in response to widespread COVID-19 school closures and is now a free resource for all students and families across the country (texting and data rates may apply), whether they are part of the Reading Partners program or not.

The Bright By Text program, available in both English and Spanish, was strategically chosen by Reading Partners due to its text messaging capability as the digital divide in America persists in economically disadvantaged American households. The platform will send two messages a week providing literacy tips, facts, and activities to parents and caregivers of five- to eight-year-olds, with content created from Reading Partners best practices and evidence-based program. In addition to the two Reading Partners messages, parents will receive information from Bright by Text about STEM, caregiver resilience, and more.

According to Pew Research Center, more than four-in-ten Americans don’t have home broadband services (44 percent) nor a traditional computer (46 percent). By comparison, each of these technologies are nearly ubiquitous among adults in households earning $100,000 or more a year.

“While our traditional model mobilizes community volunteers to tutor students in schools, in the face of COVID-19, we were able to quickly pivot with the Bright By Text partnership to remain a daily force in helping students gain the critical early literacy skills they need to succeed in school and beyond,” says Karine Apollon, CEO, Reading Partners. “In the midst of this pandemic, our mission to serve students in lower-income areas is more relevant than ever as they are disproportionately affected by societal shocks. With this texting platform, we are still able to support students whether they can afford internet services or not.” 

Research shows that students who are not reading at grade level by fourth grade are four times less likely to graduate on time. Additionally, 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores revealed that only 35 percent of US fourth graders are reading at grade level—and only 21 percent of economically disadvantaged fourth graders. Today, it is estimated that 32 million adults in the U.S. cannot read. Addressing the literacy crisis in the early elementary years can help end the destructive trends of cyclical poverty and racial inequality.

Families and caregivers across the nation are invited to sign up today by texting the word READ to 274448 or by signing up online. The sign-up process takes less than a minute.

In addition to the Bright By Text partnership, Reading Partners is deploying a number of other resources to support students who are out of school due to the COVID-19 public health emergency:

Available now:

  • Family Literacy Resources – Resources and at home reading activities offering literacy strategies for families are now available on the Reading Partners’ website.
  • Family Texting – We will work with schools to expand our family texting program (using Bright By Text)
  • Digital Library – Through a partnership with Reading IQ, we are actively developing and sourcing access to thousands of high-quality digital texts. As many of you know, this work has already begun in many of our Oakland reading centers and we are working on family engagement plans to promote usage of this tool into the summer.

In progress:

  • Virtual Read Alouds – Using online spaces like Zoom, we are developing ways to facilitate live and recorded read alouds for Reading Partners students.
  • Literacy Skill Videos – Working with our AmeriCorps members here and across the nation, we are developing short videos that will show skill practices that families can be doing at home with students every day.
  • Take Reading With You- Once the shelter-in-place mandates are lifted, we can activate ideas such as Take Reading With You, where we partner with food distribution sites throughout the communities we serve to send books and printed materials home with students.

Reading Partners seeks to secure necessary funding to keep the organization whole and responsive to the changing needs of the students and communities it serves. The best way to create quality academic opportunities for students during this challenging time is to make a contribution directly to Reading Partners’ Sponsor a Summer Campaign to raise funds to support our implementation of the literacy resources listed above now, and over the summer.. Those interested in making a major contribution, are encouraged to contact donate@readingpartners.org. Each gift will help ensure critical literacy resources reach students, whether in their classrooms or homes.

Example of content through the family texting program

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About Reading Partners
For more than 20 years, Reading Partners has empowered students to succeed in reading and in life by engaging community volunteers to provide one-on-one tutoring. Since its founding, the national nonprofit organization has mobilized more than 60,000 community volunteers to provide proven, individualized literacy tutoring to nearly 60,000 elementary school students in over 400 under-resourced schools across ten states and the District of Columbia. Visit readingpartners.org to learn more about our program impact, or connect with us on FacebookLinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

About Bright by Text

Bright by Text helps parents and caregivers make the most out of time at home with their children by illustrating fun and easy activities, providing positive parenting tips and resources, and even video content to guide a child’s development. The program is proven to build nurturing caregiver-child relationships, and positively impact a child’s healthy development and school readiness. Innovative services like Bright by Text will help provide equitable solutions to early education while schools remain closed.

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