Cincinnati/NKY launches Read On! Campaign

Damian Hoskins grew up in the West End of Cincinnati on Findlay St. downtown—an experience he says was difficult economically and required a much-needed support system in order to succeed. 

Hoskins, director of collaborative action at The Strive Partnership, is now helping to lead the Read On! Campaign in an effort to dramatically improve third-grade reading levels in the region so that other students can receive the same support his grandmother provided him with during his young life. 

“My grandmother really impressed upon us the importance of education,” Hoskins says. “Having that level of support was critical in helping me achieve milestones, so the transferability of that is being able to do the same thing for kids in our community.” 

Hoskins, who taught middle school for about 13 years, understands all too well that students who are not able to read at grade level by the third grade have a hard time ever catching up. 

“Up until third grade, kids are learning to read, and after that, they begin reading to learn,” Hoskins says. “The ability to read to learn—to comprehend what is read—reading with fluency, vocabulary acquisition and what all of this sort of means, especially for the most vulnerable of our populations—those who fall below the poverty line—is that it becomes much less likely for a student to succeed academically if they’re not reading proficiently by the third grade.”

To address these concerns, the Read On! Campaign, which will last for eight years, aims to remove any barriers that inhibit a child from gaining needed levels of proficiency. 

“What we’ve found based on national research as well as local data is that there are some key factors we need to address as a community to make sure kids are reading on grade level—factors like attendance, making sure the kids are in school, summer learning,” Hoskins says. 

The campaign kicks off Aug. 27 and will initiate an effort to reach students in more than 19 school districts throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  

“Hopefully what that will mean along the way is we can develop a level of sustainability in a model where all our kids—our community members—are supporting these very important educational milestones,” Hoskins says. “And at the same time, working to build a robust counter pipeline that gives back to the Cincinnati community because we invested in them early enough.” 

Do Good: 

• Like the Read On! Campaign on Facebook, and connect with the organization by advocating for student success or by funding the campaign. 

• Attend the campaign kickoff at the Cincinnati Museum Center Aug. 27 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

• Sign up to tutor students through the Be the Change program in Cincinnati or the One to One program in NKY.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 
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