Three Cincinnati organizations striving to close the literacy gap received grants from the Gladys and Ralph Lazarus Education Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation to help take their work to the next level.
“These investments are certainly in alignment with GCF’s overall strategy of building a Greater Cincinnati where everyone can thrive,” says Molly Robertshaw, program officer. “GCF, alongside its generous donors, has invested in several meaningful ways in education, and more specifically, literacy, over the years.”
Cincinnati Public Schools received $248,000 to hire a kindergarten reading specialist for a pilot project at Roll Hill Academy, as well as for hiring a continuous quality improvement manager to focus on literacy.
“At this point in time, nearly all reading intervention specialists district-wide are focused on third graders,” says Robertshaw. “Many say that this is too late to catch kids and play catch up if they are struggling to read. The district’s leadership would like to explore moving reading intervention efforts into younger grades in order to get kids on the right track earlier, but the district needs flexible dollars such as this to test the idea before coming close to considering shifting resources.”
According to data provided by CPS, in kindergarten to third grade literacy, CPS students scored 60.7 percent proficiency on the state reading test, which was a significant improvement from 46.5 percent the year before. The goal for this school year is 75 percent proficiency, reaching 90 percent by 2020.
Madisonville Education and Assistance Center received a $35,000 grant to expand its Early Literacy Initiative, which provides year-round, small group and one-on-one instruction to students struggling to read.
“MEAC is a unique public/private partnership based in Madisonville’s neighborhood school, John P. Parker,” says Robertshaw. “Funds granted will be used to expand to serve additional students, as well as to document the model in hopes of potential scaling in coming years.”
The Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative was awarded $5,000 to launch a program developed by Stanford researcher Dr. Jo Boaler to improve student confidence and outcomes in math. The Collaborative will train math teachers in CPS and Winton Woods school districts to implement the Math Mindset system in their classrooms, providing them with support and resources.
“GCF makes investments at both the systems change and program levels to drive the broadest scale change and to test promising ideas,” Robertshaw says.
In addition to these grants, GCF has partnered with The Scripps Howard Foundation and Duke Energy Foundation to invest in regional reading literacy efforts. GCF also works closely with the Success by 6 and Strive Partnership to support systems level change. In late 2018, GCF will offer a program-focused Ensuring Educational Success RFP.