Six Elementary School Communities Receive Third-Grade Reading Community Award Grants

More than a million children live in the Greater Atlanta region. Of these children, nearly half live in communities with low or very low child well-being. One of the measures used to assess child well-being is the ability to read by third grade—and more than four out of five low-income students in Georgia miss this critical milestone.

Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP), the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, and the United Way of Greater Atlanta (UWGA), are pleased to announce the six recipients of the Third Grade Reading Community Award, which supports the creation and implementation of innovative, community-driven solutions to improve third-grade reading outcomes in this region.

This award provides seed funding for plans that were generated by school communities who attended the Get Georgia Reading Campaign’s Metro Atlanta learning event this past spring. The grants support diverse partners working toward common goals and engage communities more deeply in addressing child well-being.

“The commonality among all the selected communities is that they are engaging partners to work not just with the kids in their schools, but also their parents, families, and caretakers,” said Get Georgia Reading Campaign Project Manager Akia Lewis. “The idea is to support the entire school community—not just the school.”

Each community will receive $10,000 from UWGA, and GaFCP will provide ongoing technical assistance to grantees through its community support team.

According to Etha Henry, UWGA executive vice president for community engagement, these grants provide UWGA with a powerful way to affect one of the most important indicators of child well-being—investing in local collaboration, bringing together libraries, schools, early learning providers, out-of-school time providers, and other community members to work at the ground level.

“Georgia Family Connection Partnership and the Get Georgia Reading Campaign are key partners because they are embedded in the community and able to provide essential technical assistance to all our partners, including convening, measuring outcomes, and reporting,” said Henry. “Together, we can make bigger improvements to child well-being in our community.”

Funding priorities align with the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s strategic goals, the Get Georgia Reading Campaign’s common agenda, and the United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-being Index. The recipients are seeking solutions for increasing school readiness, reducing chronic absence, and reducing summer learning loss.

College Park Elementary School (Fulton County Schools) is working with parents and partners to increase the number of Quality-Rated early learning centers. Their goal is to have four of the five centers in the area go through the rating process—and to educate parents about the importance of having Quality-Rated centers.

Hickory Hills Elementary School (Marietta City Schools) is coaching parents and families on learning techniques for school readiness and increasing the number of books in students’ homes. Nearly 900 books will be distributed during the school year and summer months. At least 30 students will participate in the school’s summer reading program.

M. Agnes Jones Elementary School (Atlanta Public Schools) will distribute books and design curriculum to deepen engagement with books in the classroom. The school also will work with partners to improve reading proficiency through mentoring.

Meadow Creek Elementary School (Gwinnett County Public Schools) will host 90-minute weekly sessions focused on kindergarten readiness for children birth through 5 years old—along with parents, families, and caregivers. More than 500 books will be distributed during the events.

Oliver Elementary School (Clayton County Public Schools) aims to increase school attendance by targeting nearly 200 students—and their families—who were chronically absent last year in a series of activities, mentoring, and workshops that are focused on the importance of attending school regularly.

Stone Mill Elementary School (DeKalb County School District) will work with the apartment complexes surrounding the school to distribute 800 books and educate parents on the importance of literacy.

According to Amy Baringer, Hickory Hills Elementary library media specialist, this grant is already making a big impact for the students in Hickory Hills who live in poverty and have limited access to books outside of school.

“Several of the parents who have attended our literacy nights have expressed their appreciation for the chance to learn new but easy ways of becoming involved in their children’s reading,” said Baringer. “By learning simple strategies for literary engagement, our parents are better positioned to be involved with their children’s literacy. The funding has allowed families to establish home libraries and is creating a community of readers.”