Triangle Community Foundation and United Way Partner for Early Literacy

The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) is partnering with the United Way of the Greater Triangle, Triangle Community Foundation and community coalitions in Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties to ensure children are on a pathway to grade-level reading by the end of third grade, giving them the tools to succeed in the 21st century economy.

By 2020, 67% of jobs in North Carolina will need post-secondary education. Proficient reading in the early grades predicts high school and even later success. Simply put, those who can read at grade level or beyond go on to graduate. Those who aren’t proficient in reading by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. The impact is significant for these students, their families, economic growth in our community and social mobility of low-income households.

According to the NC Department of Public Instruction in 2016, average grade-level reading proficiency for economically disadvantaged children in these five counties was 40 percent, and for all students it was 58 percent. That’s over half of students in the region that cannot read on grade-level by the end of third grade.

Through this partnership, Triangle Community Foundation and United Way of the Greater Triangle are leveraging resources to make a regional impact on literacy, with a combined initial investment of more than $700,000. Triangle Community Foundation is providing multi-year grants to four community coalitions – Bull City Reads, WAKE Up and Read, Chatham Reads and a new collaborative forming in Orange County. United Way is supporting the collaborative partnerships in Wake, Durham, Orange, and Johnston counties. Both organizations are funding NCECF to further communities’ success across the region. By working together to affect change in literacy for our students, the organizations are also hoping to grow support among other regionally minded funders.

“The partnership with Triangle Community Foundation and NCECF marks an important milestone for our organizations. Our shared vision for a regional initiative allows us to collaboratively support individual community needs, mobilize additional resources, and share best practices across communities,” said Mack Koonce, President and CEO of United Way of the Greater Triangle.

“By working together in our region to fund critical work that will effectively ensure more children have access to the resources they need so that they can become proficient readers, we can change the landscape of future success,” said Lori O’Keefe, President and CEO of Triangle Community Foundation. “Addressing this critical issue collaboratively not only raises awareness of youth literacy, but allows us to make a greater impact for our kids.”

The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is mobilizing coalitions of nonprofits, parents, business leaders, government agencies, congregations, foundations, and others to remove barriers, expand opportunities, collaborate and align efforts to ensure that children can read on grade-level by the end of third grade. The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation serves as the state lead for the campaign and supports communities’ success to build capacity to achieve measurable outcomes in school readiness, school attendance, summer learning, and grade-level reading.

Grade-level reading is achievable with policies and practices that reflect reading is a cumulative process that develops from birth and is rooted in early brain development. To be successful readers by third grade, children need:

  • Health and Development on Track Beginning at Birth
  • Supported and Supportive Families and Communities
  • High Quality Birth-to-Eight Learning Environments
  • Regular Attendance in Early Learning Programs and Schools

Download the press release.