New York City Council Members and children's literacy advocates
celebrated a unique victory for New York City families today: a $1.5
million dollar investment to help parents raise their youngest children
to be strong and proficient readers.
The funding was part of the newly adopted city budget and will support
the Early Childhood Literacy Initiative, which targets children 0-5
years old. This initiative is a collaboration of eight organizations
already working to turn young children into accomplished readers.
Through coordinated services, each organization can serve more children
and families to develop literacy skills in young children.
Organizations receiving funding to implement the Early Childhood
Literacy Initiative include:
Council Member Stephen Levin (33rd District) and Council
Member Antonio Reynoso (34th District), with the support of
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito championed the inclusion of the Early
Childhood Literacy Initiative in the City budget. The Council's
leadership and vision in tackling a systemic problem enhance the Mayor
and Chancellor's expansion of universal Pre-K.
"If we want to help our children succeed throughout their lives then we
have to put resources into their development starting at an early age,"
said Council Member Levin. "The Early Childhood Literacy
Initiative addresses distressing childhood literacy rates in New York
City and invests in the future of our children. I am proud to have
fought for these important resources for our children and want to thank
Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Reynoso, and the many advocates
for children who worked tirelessly on this initiative."
Council Member Reynoso remarked, "This initiative takes a
proactive step toward addressing the disparity in literacy rates across
the city, with a specific focus on helping the youngest children in our
low-income communities and their families take early steps toward
success that can make a major difference later in life. I would like to
express my thanks to the Council and the Speaker for supporting this
The Early Childhood Literacy Initiative responds to alarming childhood
literacy rates in New York City which show that 72% of New York City's
public school children do not read proficiently by the end of
third grade, with children from poor and low-income households
disproportionately facing the greatest literacy challenges. There is a
direct correlation between 3rd grade readng proficiency and
high school graduation rates.
The City Council recognized that one of the best ways to help children
to excel in 3rd grade is to make sure that they have abundant
language exposure during their early years to serve as a strong
foundation for continuous learning. This collaboration has the potential
to reduce the disparity between middle class children, who average 1,000
hours of being read to prior to starting kindergarten, and children from
high poverty families, who experience a mere 25 hours of being read to
during the same time period in their early lives.
Engaging parents to create a more language- and literacy-rich home life
for their children is at the heart of the Early Childhood Literacy
Initiative. Its goal is to foster literacy development through a network
of supports, starting with a child's earliest doctor visits and
extending throughout the community to provide families with a steady
stream of guidance, parenting workshops and resources to raise their
babies into tomorrow's competent and enthusiastic readers.
"This is a real success story for New York City families," said Traci
Lester, Executive Director of Reach Out and Read of Greater New York.
"This kind of collaboration is what New York needs to bring about change
and impact the city's neediest families. Reach Out and Read of Greater
New York thanks City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Council
Member Levin and Council Member Reynoso for standing behind our work to
make reading part of a healthy childhood for all of New York's children."
Literacy, Inc. (LINC) Executive Director, Shari Levine, observed,
"Every community has literacy resources that can be developed to support
emerging readers. This initiative will provide the funding to make that
happen and strengthen the impact of each organization's programmatic
expertise through the power of our partnership. LINC thanks the entire
Council, particularly the Speaker and Councilmembers Levin and Reynoso,
for their commitment to supporting the Early Childhood Initiative."
"Support from NYC Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Members
Levin and Reynoso on this Literacy Initiative showcases how essential it
is that we work as a community to address the achievement gap in pre-k
and grammar school-aged children," said Kerri Osborne, Regional Vice
President Tri-State of Jumpstart. "This collaboration is critical.
Collectively we can better serve some of the most underserved
neighborhoods in our city, bringing a brighter future to NYC families."
"This initiative recognizes the critical continuum of support services
that are required to increase parent-child interaction, foster early
literacy, and ensure grade-level reading," said Sarah Walzer, CEO of
Parent-Child Home Program. "We are honored to be a part of this
initiative and gratefully applaud City Council Speaker Melissa Mark
Viverito, Council Member Levin and Council Member Reynoso for their
commitment to ensuring that every family has the opportunity to discover
the joy of reading together."
"The scope of this initiative is truly breathtaking," noted Alan
Mendelsohn MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Population
Health, and Carolyn Cates PhD, Assistant Professor and Director
of the Video Interaction Project at New York University School of
Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center. "The programs to be supported
uniquely impact families during the critical period of early brain
development from birth to 5 years before children
start school. This may be the first time that so many innovative,
effective groups seeking to promote early literacy will work together to
give all children an equal chance of
succeeding in school and in life." Children of Bellevue, Inc. and the
Bellevue Project for Early Language Literacy and Education Success
(BELLE) thank Council Members Stephen Levin and Antonio Reynoso and the
entire New York City Council for their leadership in this incredibly
"The Library is very thankful to City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito,
Councilmembers Levin and Reynoso, and the City Council for this
important funding, which will enhance the Library's early childhood
literacy initiative, and open new doors of opportunity for the children
that we serve," said NYPL President Tony Marx. "The programs we
provide help children learn to read, which significantly improves their
futures and our city."
"This tremendous investment from the City Council will help ensure that
Brooklyn's youngest readers start school ready to learn," said Linda
E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. As a
partner in the Early Childhood Literacy Initiative, this funding will
allow us to launch interactive early literacy spaces across the borough,
expand workshops that help parents engage young children in reading
activities, increase baby and toddler programs at high-demand and
high-need libraries, and purchase thousands of new children's books. We
are grateful to Council Member Levin, Council Member Reynoso, and
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for their leadership on this exciting
"As conveners of the NYC Early Learning Network, Queens Library is
committed to helping our youngest New Yorkers blossom into
intellectually active and successful adults. We look forward to working
with other community-based and educational organizations to create
robust readers. We thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members
Stephen Levin and Antonio Reynoso, and the entire City Council for their
leadership." Bridget Quinn-Carey, Executive VP and COO, Queens Library.
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