Studies show that the development of literacy skills through early experiences with books and stories is directly linked to a child's success in learning to read. But in low income neighborhoods, there’s an average of just one book for every 300 children.
At United Way, we believe that every child should arrive at kindergarten prepared to succeed. That’s why we’re proud to co-lead two regional hubs focused on early learning: Early Learning Multnomah (ELM) and Early Learning Washington County (ELWC). Both hubs are designed to align programs, systems and funding to ultimately eliminate racial and social disparities in kindergarten readiness to improve long-term educational outcomes for children age 0-6.
One of the ways that the hubs aim to do this is by getting culturally-specific reading materials into the hands of kids who need them. ELM and ELWC received early literacy grants from Oregon’s Department of Education to partner with several nonprofits, agencies, libraries and school districts to create and distribute materials to priority populations.
Materials aren’t merely translated; six different versions include unique songs, stories, games, and other literacy activities that reflect the unique traditions and values of Vietnamese, Slavic, Latino, Native American, and African American communities.
Recently groups of volunteers assembled by United Way’s Hands on Portland team assembled thousands of these book bundles. Between the two counties, over 20,000 kits will be distributed to children by this summer.