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CHILDREN’S LITERACY PROGRAM TARGETS HARD-TO-REACH CHILDREN FROM IN-NEED FAMILIES THROUGHOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA

Raising A Reader partners with Mercy Housing California to bring books and guidance to families with at-risk children

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 15, 2015 – Raising A Reader, a national nonprofit organization that provides resources and programs to help families develop, practice and maintain literacy habits critical for a child’s success, has partnered with Mercy Housing California, one of the largest providers of affordable housing for families throughout the state, to bring the Raising A Reader program to low-income families throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Working together the organizations will offer the literacy program to low-income families in an effort to reach young children who are among the hardest-to-reach.

More than 25 percent of young children in metropolitan San Francisco are living in areas of concentrated poverty and 23 percent of those children do not attend any preschool program for at least 10 hours a week. This, combined with the fact that many children in low-income families are not engaged in a regular reading routine at home, has resulted in 46 percent of all third graders in San Francisco not being able to read proficiently and at grade level.

The Raising A Reader program will be implemented in select Mercy family developments in San Francisco, Oakland and San Leandro that provide housing for almost 700 families. The median annual income of a Mercy Housing household in California is $14,400.

“Working with partners like Mercy Housing enables us to provide literacy programs for children that are typically the most difficult to reach because they often are not engaged with any community organizations that might provide such a program,” said Gabrielle Miller, Ed.D., president and CEO of Raising A Reader. “We have a responsibility to see that all children, regardless of any obstacles in reaching them, are able to participate in programs that will put them on a better path for success in life.”

Children who participate in the program are given a Raising A Reader book bag with several age-appropriate books to share with their parents. Every week the bags are rotated into children’s homes, with approximately 100 books being brought into the child’s home every year. The program also provides support and guidance to help families develop, practice and maintain home-based literacy habits. More than 30 independent evaluations demonstrate Raising A Reader’s impact on essential home literacy skills.

“Affordable housing alone cannot adequately address the complex problems created by poverty,” said Shashi Jivan, director of family services for Mercy Housing California. “It is critical to provide programs such as Raising A Reader if we’re going to raise the bar as far as helping families get on their feet and raise children who will be happy, healthy, productive and successful adults.”

Now in its 34th year, Mercy Housing California is the largest regional division of national not-for-profit Mercy Housing, Inc. With a presence in 41 states and over 200 cities, Mercy Housing, Inc. has developed, preserved and financed more than 45,800 affordable homes nationwide, both rental and single family, serving more than 152,600 adults and children on any given day. In working to fulfill this mission, Mercy Housing California has developed more than 140 affordable housing complexes in 36 counties throughout California, providing 11,000+ homes and serving over 22,000 people in need.

Raising A Reader is a 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to helping families develop, practice and maintain literacy habits for children ages 0-8 that are critical for a child’s success in school and in life. The program is evidence-based, with more than 23 independent evaluations showing that Raising A Reader significantly improves language and literacy skills, cognitive development, communication and comprehension skills, school readiness and social competence. Raising A Reader is implemented through a network of community partners that comprise more than 2,500 locations across the country including public school systems, libraries, afterschool programs, community agencies and other organizations both public and private. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Raising A Reader was founded in 1999 and has served more than 1.25 million families nationwide. More information is available at RaisingAReader.org, @RARnational (Twitter) and RaisingAReaderNational (Facebook).

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