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Reading Is Fundamental Invests in Community Partners to Create Impact and Build Capacity for Literacy Solutions

(Washington DC - November 2, 2017) Reading is Fundamental (RIF) announces the recipients of its 2017 matching grant program to support local literacy champions who are making a difference in the lives of children across the country. Grant recipients will receive a combination of books and literacy resources to implement Books for Ownership or Read for Success programs in schools, health clinics, community organizations, and libraries in more than 100 communities across 37 states, impacting more than 145,000 children.

“Reading Is Fundamental is committed to creating a culture of literacy in communities nationwide. Reading is the necessary foundation for all children that puts them on the pathway for success,” says Reading is Fundamental President and CEO, Alicia Levi. “For over 50 years, Reading Is Fundamental has supported local literacy advocates with the resources they need to impact children in their communities.”

Every child deserves an opportunity to own books, learn how to read, and obtain the fundamental building blocks needed to achieve their highest potential, yet 25 million children in the United States cannot read proficiently.1 In addition, 34% of children entering kindergarten lack the basic skills needed to learn how to read.2 By the fourth grade, 65% of children are reading below grade level.3

RIF’s new approach to providing awards to local stakeholders seeking greater literacy support for their local community generated significant interest. Community partners applying for a matching grant from RIF were required to define the specific literacy problem, their proposed solution aligned with RIF’s mission, and methods for implementation.

Books for Ownership Matching Grant Program

This competitive grant program focuses on access and choice and gives students in communities throughout the country the opportunity to participate in RIF’s flagship program and select new, age-appropriate books to take home. The program’s integrated approach to literacy provides supporting resources to teachers and inspires children to learn through two annual events focused on motivational literacy activities, community involvement, and book selection.

Read for Success Matching Grant Program

This competitive grant program is designed to impact the summer slide and allow all children to experience the life-changing power of literacy. The program is an integrated instructional model incorporating in-school and at home literacy extensions to ensure children have choice and access to literacy materials, making reading relevant and relatable. Instructional support materials in the form of classroom book collections are supplemented by professional development and literacy activities and coupled with the successful RIF Books for Ownership model.

Organizations that will receive 2017 Reading Is Fundamental matching grants include:

Kiwanis Club of Marco Island, FL:

The grant will be used to purchase books for the RIF distributions at two program sites. Additionally, a summer and after school reading program for students and their parents at Manatee school to aid English as second language students and their parents in interactive reading and summer reading efforts. 80% of the students at Manatee school speak English as a second language so opportunities providing book ownership will continue to encourage improved language skills. The Kiwanis Club of Marco Island aims to expand to benefit the local High School Key Club and provide after school Books For Ownership activities to children who lost everything as a result of Hurricane Irma.

United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona:

The grant awarded will be used for the Extended Year Summer Literacy Program for incoming kindergarten students. The program runs for six weeks, four days per week for four hours per day. The issues addressed through the financial support of the grant are kindergarten readiness and parent involvement. Parents are encouraged to participate during the summer through an emphasis on daily attendance, reading at home with their child, and practicing early literacy activities at home.

In 2018 RIF will continue to support local partners with two new grant programs, expected to be announced in Spring 2018 on RIF’s community website: RIF.org/Literacy-Network

About Reading Is Fundamental:

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is committed to a literate America by inspiring a passion for reading among all children, providing quality content to create impact, and engaging communities in the solution to give every child the fundamentals for success. As the nation's largest non profit organization for children's literacy, RIF has provided more than 413 million books to 40 million kids in all 50 states.

1Based on an analysis of NAEP test scores.

2 Council on Early Childhood (2014). Literacy promotion: An essential component of primary care pediatric practice. Pediatrics 134(2): 404-409.

3 National Center for Education Statistics. The Nation’s Report Card: A First Look: 2013 Mathematics and Reading.