City of Newark expands home-based reading program for inner city families to increase literacy rate of local children

Foundation For Newark’s Future provides $225,000 in funding in addition to $400,000 given in 2015

NEWARK, NJ, April 20, 2016 – 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, will expand its program in Newark as a result of a $225,000 grant awarded to the United Way of Essex and West Hudson by the Foundation for Newark’s Future. This funding is in addition to the $431,000 provided last year and will enable additional inner city children to participate in the program.

More than 3,500 Newark families will be included in the program every year, with more than 14,000 books being rotated through Newark homes every week. The program will be implemented through Newark pre-schools, day care centers and other community-based organizations.

Children who are not reading proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to experience academic failure. Family engagement plays a critical role in the development of literacy skills and long-term school success. The development of reading skills requires a robust home-based literacy environment and book sharing coupled with family engagement.

A recent study on the effectiveness of the Raising A Reader program among children in Newark showed the number of times a child asked their parent to read a book increased 24 percent and the number of instances a child actually read a book with their parent increased 47 percent. The number of children who asked their parent to read a book to them again after finishing a book increased from 58 percent to 92 percent.

“During the past year, FNF has seen firsthand the impact of the Raising A Reader program on our community as implemented through the United Way of Essex and West Hudson,” said Kimberly McLain, president & CEO of the Foundation for Newark’s Future. “By investing in the literacy of our children we are investing in the future of Newark that will pay meaningful dividends for generations to come.”

Children who participate in the program are given a Raising A Reader book bag with several age-appropriate books to take home and read 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.

“Family engagement is a critical factor in improving a child’s reading proficiency,” said Gabrielle Miller, Ed.D., president and CEO of Raising A Reader. “There are countless studies showing when a parent reads to or with their child, the engagement that occurs between them greatly contributes to the child’s ability to read and fosters a love of reading that will last a lifetime.”

The Raising A Reader program is implemented in Newark through early care education agencies supported by the United Way.

“This additional funding from FNF will enable us to grow the Raising A Reader program and exponentially increase its benefit to the community,” said Catherine P. Wilson, acting CEO for United Way of Essex and West Hudson. “Improving the literacy of children gives them the tools they need for success in school and in life; reading is a core competency that will impact every aspect of their lives for the rest of their lives.”

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 32 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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