Gila River Indian Community Visits NC to Share Learnings about Grade-Level Reading Work

Representatives from the Gila River Indian Community outside Phoenix, Arizona visited North Carolina earlier this month to share the early literacy work going on in their Community, learn about the NC Pathways to Grade Level Reading initiative, and visit a local Campaign for Grade-Level Reading community. NCECF staff, the Gila River representatives, and Chatham Reads representatives were hosted in Pittsboro by the Chatham County Partnership for Children for a day of shared learning.

The Gila River Indian Community has been working intentionally for the past couple years to build up programming around early literacy using third-grade reading proficiency as a benchmark. They used the Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Measures of Success Framework to have discussions in the Community with the Tribal Council and write grant proposals for early literacy programming, which they received. They have built up successful book-giving programs, Little Libraries around the Community, public service announcements featuring the Tribal Governor about the importance of reading with young children, and more.

We loved the children’s books the Community is making that feature the Gila River people. The books are about the places the children in the community see and interact with every day and tell traditional Akimel O’otham and Pee Posh (also known as Pima and Maricopa) stories. 

We shared the process NCECF led with its partners to develop NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Measures of Success Framework and the Pathways Action Framework, gave an overview of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and shared the First 2000 Days public awareness campaign. Chatham County, being a rural county near a metropolitan area, was a good sister community for the Gila River representatives to visit. Staff from the Chatham County Partnership for Children briefly shared the history of Smart Start in North Carolina and their early childhood services offered to county residents. Chatham Reads and Chatham Education Foundation representatives also talked about the collaborative nature of early childhood efforts in the county including a bookmobile and summer learning program for rising kindergarteners offered in partnership with local schools.

We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with the Gila River Indian Community. Visit the Community’s website to learn more about Gila River history and culture.