Learn to read; read to learn.
WHO WE ARE
Since 1994, Literacy First has helped more than 25,000 children learn to read so they may read to learn for the rest of their lives. Literacy First is an outreach program of the Charles A. Dana Center in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.
OUR VISION: Every child in Central Texas develops reading skills that allow them to realize their full potential with regard to education, economic opportunity, civic engagement, and personal development.
OUR MISSION: We partner with school districts to ensure all children are reading at or above grade level by third grade.
OUR APPROACH: We fulfill our mission by offering a variety of support services, with a particular focus on achieving racially equitable outcomes for growing readers, including one-to-one literacy interventions, teacher and staff training, instructional coaching, data-centered advising, and bilingual and culturally relevant reading resources and interventions.
"You are the magic. You care about me and now I know how to read." -Student to their Literacy First tutor
WHAT WE'RE FUNDRAISING FOR
We know that after two years of disruptions in learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, more students than ever before require the support of Literacy First on their reading journeys. Historically, around 40% of students in a school qualify for our program. At the beginning of this school year, we saw rates closer to 70%. Since then, our highly trained tutors have been providing in-person, intensive, one-to-one, daily tutoring lessons to hundreds of growing readers in Central Texas.
We are also expanding the ways in which we work with districts to make our interventions available to more students, and working to recruit more local adults from our school communities as tutors. For the past 27 years, we have partnered with AmeriCorps to engage full-time tutors who are doing a year of national service. In 2018, we began training full-time paraprofessional tutors hired by partner districts to deliver our interventions for K-2 students, and training their staff to implement and sustain the program. And, many of our tutors go on to become classroom teachers through our partnership with the Region 13 Teacher Certification program.
"I tried to Zoom you over the weekend, because I wanted my mom to meet you." -Student to their Literacy First tutor
Every year, Literacy First helps over 1,000 students learn to read so they can read to learn for the rest of their lives. Multiple independent evaluations have found that Literacy First students score higher on early reading tests and maintain those gains the following year(s). On average, more than 80% of students we tutor, who start the year below grade level, will make accelerated and measurable progress in reading skills. More than 50% will reach or exceed grade-level benchmarks. And, Literacy First students who reach grade level go on to pass the STAAR reading assessment at a 30% higher rate than their peers not in the program. Early intervention works in closing the opportunity gap, and more students than ever before are in need of the support Literacy First provides. Our recently completed strategic plan charts an ambitious path to grow from serving 1000 students to reaching 3500 students by 2024.
“Your tutors add 10 times the value to our school community!" -AISD principal at a Literacy First school
"Before your mentoring he had given up reading for fun and I had to "make" him read just to get assignments done. Since your guys' sessions he actually picks up a book again on his own or finds something just to read for fun. That means so much to me ♡ thank you!!!" -Parent to their child's Literacy First tutor
"I just have to take a moment to thank you for all your hard work. While compiling student graphs yesterday, I was in awe of how much growth the students have made. Really- Some of the graphs I just stared at for a minute of two to take it all in because they made me so happy. Their growth is due in large part to all three of you- your organization, positivity, caring, and ability to motivate students makes them WANT to read and to succeed. Thanks so much for all you do for your students!" -Del Valle ISD Reading Specialist to Literacy First tutors
To learn more about the program, visit literacyfirst.org