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Reading Is Fundamental to Boost Reading Achievement of Low-Income Students with $4 Million Grant

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2012 – Through a $4.18 million award by the Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) will launch a new program to combat summer reading loss among children living in poverty.

“Children living in poverty often return to school each fall without having read a single book, putting them further and further behind academically,” said RIF President and CEO Carol H. Rasco. “This new program will provide valuable research on a scalable model to stem the ‘summer slide’ and prepare children for success not only in the classroom but throughout their lives.”

RIF’s program will reach 22,000 students in 200 schools – in districts where at least a quarter of the students are living below the poverty line – and in 17 states (Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Washington).

Students will select eight books to take home along with age-appropriate activities aligned with the Common Core Standards, focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) themes. Teachers will learn more about summer learning loss and how RIF’s intervention can help. Families will be included as partners in their children’s reading, participating in a summer and fall family reading celebration that includes parent forums. During the summer reading program, parents will also receive weekly communications with tips and reminders, as well as a face-to-face discussion mid-summer.

Teachers in the participating schools will receive STEAM-based training and a 40-title STEAM-based book collection, along with related teaching materials. Each library or media center will also receive a copy of the collection.

To gauge progress and reading achievement of students, the program will include both qualitative and quantitative analysis to add to the body of knowledge about book access and summer reading.

The program is based on the research by Dr. Thomas White of the University of Virginia and Dr. James Kim of Harvard that shows when students voluntarily read books that match their reading ability and interest, and their teachers and parents are engaged in supporting their learning, learning loss can be stemmed significantly over the summer. In fact, in the Kim and White study published in 2008, children gained 1.7 to 5.1 months in reading over the summer.

More than $28 million was awarded to 46 non-profits and school districts through the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program, with RIF receiving the largest amount.

"Literacy is the key to higher learning and a window to the world," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These grants will develop programs that help students cultivate skills that will boost achievement, carry them through adulthood and prepare them for success in our global economy."

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) delivers free books and literacy resources to children and families in underserved communities in the United States. By giving children the opportunity to own a book, RIF inspires them to become lifelong readers and achieve their full potential. As the nation's largest children's literacy nonprofit, RIF has placed 400 million books in the hands of more than 35 million children since it was established in 1966. Learn more and help RIF provide books to kids who need them most, visit RIF.org.

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Media Contact: Manoucheka Attime | Weber Shandwick for RIF | 202-585-2043

Reading Is Fundamental to Boost Reading Achievement of Low-Income Students with $4 Million Grant