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Impact: Funding Early Childhood Education in Support of Literacy

In June 2012, the Foundation funded three early childhood education programs working to strengthen literacy skills among young children, combat summer learning loss and ensure students are reading at grade level by third grade. While each program was unique, they all had similar goals and were successful in meeting the needs of their target population. Lexington School District Four Lexington School District Four (LSC4) serves a rural, socioeconomically-deprived area of Lexington County. The district conducted a study to measure the effectiveness of four distinct frameworks surrounding their summer reading program. All 950 students in grades one through four participated, receiving eight books along with varying levels of engagement including instructional postcards, fluency lessons and comprehension strategy sessions.

The goal was to create a summer reading program that makes books accessible to all participants and implements the supporting framework that is shown to best help students read on grade level by third grade. The district was able to leverage their support from the Community Foundation allowing for additional partnerships with ETV, the State Department of Education, the Lions Club and local churches and businesses. This allowed the district to complete a second year of the longitudinal study in 2013.

St. Lawrence Place St. Lawrence Place keeps homeless families and their children together and helps them cultivate the skills to become contributing members of the community. Last summer they provided a full-day, literacy-based summer program to 32 homeless and impoverished children aged 4-11.  The program included daily literacy-based activities and tutoring involving volunteers from Brockman Elementary School and Richland County Public Library. The children also participated in weekly cultural activities via field trips to museums, theaters and the zoo. St. Lawrence Place also increased parental involvement through Family Literacy Night events. These events included a meal along with family reading time and discussion.  Pre-and post-testing showed that 88 percent of the children who were identified as “below grade level” in reading fluency re-tested “at grade level” at the end of the program. In addition, 93 percent of the children identified “at grade level” in reading fluency re-tested “at grade level” or above.

United Way of the Midlands United Way’s Ready Read Succeed program addresses the needs of children from ages 3-10 in three school districts – Richland One, Lexington Two and Lexington Five. The program provides professional development for early childhood educators, family engagement activities for preschoolers and individual literacy tutoring for at-risk children pre-K through second grade. As a result of the program’s increased visibility, United Way was able to leverage CCCF grant funds nearly seven times the original cash investment. New partnerships were generated with Leadership Columbia (LC) Class of 2013 and the State Department of Education. LC provided 2500 books for the MRC tutoring program, a family night out event, two mobile reading nooks at one school and a complete reading room makeover in another school. The State Department of Education distributed over 52,000 books to the 14 schools served by MRC tutors for the Summer Reading Project.