SDP announces $30 million to improve early literacy
The School District of Philadelphia, The Lenfest Foundation and the William Penn Foundation announced a collective $30 million effort to improve literacy education that eventually could impact the 48,000 children in kindergarten through third grade (K-3) at SDP.
The Lenfest Foundation has committed $4.5 million and the William Penn Foundation has committed $6 million to support this work. According to The Daily News, $12.7 million will come from the district and there is a fundraising goal of $3.4 million from the public.
The first part of this effort kicked-off with a week-long intensive training sessions for 700 school district teachers and principals held at at Martin Luther King High School in East Germantown.
Superintendent William Hite, who last week received a good review from the School Reform Commission (SRC), said in a statement he was pleased that the investment prioritized professional development for educators.
"Enhanced teacher training will assist in enabling us to reach the goal of grade-level literacy for all students by fourth grade."
According to the Williams Penn Foundation, of the district’s 48,000 K-3 students, 85 percent live below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, 14 percent have special education needs, and 10 percent speak a primary language other than English.
“Without high-quality instruction and intervention when needed, literacy rates for children from low-income families tend to lag behind their middle-income peers,” stated the foundation.
This three-year effort will focus on three key elements: teacher training, on-site job support from trained instructional coaches, and in-class libraries to provide better resources for students. It will also work to advance the READ! By 4th campaign, a city-wide effort launched in 2014 by Public Citizens for Children and Youth and the Urban Affairs Coalition.
"This project is critical to the long-term academic success of our children, and we are proud to serve as a part of a collaborative effort that has committed time, energy, and resources to support the advancement of a citywide literacy agenda," said Lenfest Foundation executive director Stacy E. Holland.