News & Media

The David & Laura Merage Foundation Supports National Campaign to Boost Reading Proficiency for Children

Jun 17 2015

The David & Laura Merage Foundation has joined a coalition coordinated by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to address three challenges to early reading proficiency – school readiness, attendance, and summer learning. The work will also emphasize supporting parents and addressing health issues that can impede early learning. Over the next three years, along with our partners, we have committed to “road test” plans for the initiative, reaching a total of at least 50,000 children with an enhanced package of screenings and supports designed to accelerate ongoing efforts to improve these three critical challenges.

These “road tests” will be crucial in preparing for the launch in 2017 of an initiative known as “More Hopeful Futures,” which was spotlighted last week in Denver during the Clinton Global Initiative America conference.  More Hopeful Futures will be the next phase of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s effort to increase reading proficiency, building on the early progress and ongoing work of the more than 160 communities that are part of the Campaign.

A dozen funders in six states (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa and New York) have pledged to invest a total of $34.6 million across a variety of organizations to help identify additional resources to support the expansion and replication of effective programs. “We are honored to be a part of this important national initiative and to collaborate in Colorado with service providers to help deliver child development resources and supports to so many children and families,” said Sue Renner, Executive Director of the David & Laura Merage Foundation. “We are pleased to support organizations like Early Learning Ventures that are doing this critical work and are looking for ways to build on and expand their impact,” Renner added.

Ralph Smith, Managing Director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading said, “Our work going forward, including More Hopeful Futures, draws heavily on the experience, lessons and insights of the civic leaders and public officials who have mobilized their communities and the state and local funders who have supported the work.”

National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders, and four-fifths of those from low-income families, are not reading proficiently.  Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a milestone on a child’s path to high school graduation and later success because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”  Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of school and struggle throughout their lives.