2020 Grants Challenge
🎉 Winner

Reading Partners LA: The Path to Fourth Grade Reading Proficiency for 1,000 Children

Reading Partners helps hundreds of economically disadvantaged move toward reading proficiency by helping them develop mastery of key reading skills through data-informed, curriculum-driven, one-on-one volunteer tutoring. We strive to build sustainable, community-driven solutions to the literacy crisis and educational equity for all who live in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Reading Partners plans to expand our core program in LA County and deepen local impact on fourth grade literacy achievement, reaching 1000 students by 2022.


Has your proposal changed due to COVID-19?

School closures resulting from COVID-19 have a significant impact on all students; however, for low-income communities, that impact is devastating. Students who were already falling will fall even further behind.

Over the past 3 months, we have provided bilingual content-rich virtual resources to families via online platforms and text, individualized literacy skill videos and guidance directly to our families and schools, and hosted biweekly live story time for our students.

Looking forward to the 2021 school year, we are preparing for several scenarios that allow us to continue to adapt to the needs of our school partners and students. While all of our school partners have requested onsite presence of Reading Partners staff and as much traditional one-on-one in-person tutoring support as possible, we know it is critical that we also have remote, individualized tutoring available to our students, so that we can continue to provide the critical support needed regardless of our ever-changing safety needs of our schools.

So, in addition to the continuation of the above resources in the upcoming school year, Reading Partners will also be offering remote tutoring that will extend our proven curriculum into a virtual environment. We are currently building a platform for our students to experience our curriculum virtually with a volunteer tutor, either at home or at school. We plan to roll out the program fully in the fall along with some of our other summer pilot programs.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

San Gabriel Valley

South Bay

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

What is the need you’re responding to?

According to the 2016 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Test (CAASPP), 72% of Los Angeles County’s economically disadvantaged student scored below reading standards in 2016. Research shows that children who do not master early literacy skills experience a decreased rate of reading skill acquisition, tending to fall further and faster behind in reading than their peers, a phenomenon called the Matthew Effect (Stanovich,1986). Being below grade-level proficiency after fourth grade is equivalent to being shut out of content learning in class (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2011). Reading Partners targets low-income elementary students who have yet to master basic foundational reading skills and who are six months to two-and-a-half years behind grade level proficiency.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Reading Partners believes reading is the foundation of all future learning, and is the only nationally scaled program in the country with the complete package of in-school, one-on-one literacy instruction by volunteers who are trained and supported by staff. In each school, Reading Partners transforms a dedicated space into a reading center and recruits at least 50 volunteer tutors to serve 40 or more students. Our student-tutor pairs work together for 45 minutes twice per week, following an individualized reading plan tailored to each student’s particular needs and strengths as well as Reading Partners’ strategic goals for student reading achievement. To execute this plan, tutors use Reading Partners’ curriculum, a series of research-based, structured lessons plans that progress from phonics instruction for early readers to comprehension strategy instruction for more advanced students.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 900

Indirect Impact: 2,500

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Basic literacy is the foundation for future success, and a critical stepping stone helping low-income students break the cycle of poverty. Educational attainment entrenches the cycle of poverty by diminishing future earning potential. When poverty is factored in, students who can't read at grade level by 4th grade are 13 times less likely to graduate high school compared to their more affluent peers. Young adults without a diploma earned a median income of $25,400 in 2015—half of the earnings of a young adult worker with a bachelor’s degree. Reading Partners’ overarching goal is to help close the achievement gap through equitable access to educational support that will set them on a path to lifelong learning and future success.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Reading Partners’ overarching goal is to help close the reading achievement gap among low-income youth by producing measurable improvement in students’ reading skills. We track each student’s progress against their primary end-of-year literacy growth goal. We help our younger students—those in kindergarten through second-grade—make strides to develop mastery of foundational reading skills appropriate for their grade level and support our older students by ensuring they are on track to read at grade-level by the end of the year. Thus, we measure the success of our program each year against the following metrics:

Objective 1: 83 percent of all Reading Partners’ students will meet or exceed their primary, individualized end-of-year literacy growth goal.

Objective 2: 90 percent of all kindergarteners through second-graders will master grade-appropriate foundational literacy skills, putting them on track to read at or above grade level by third grade.

Objective 3: 75 percent of all third- and fourth-grade students will demonstrate growth in reading scores compared to a national group of peers in the same grade.

Objective 4: 70 percent of students will show improvement in general academic behaviors, such as class participation and regular homework completion, as reported by teacher surveys.

Objective 5: 90 percent of teachers and principals will identify Reading Partners as a valuable asset to their school, as measured by surveys.

Objective 6: 2-3 additional school partners will be identified for the 2021-22 school year, where we will be able to reach the additional 150 students needed to reach 1000 students across the Greater Los Angeles Area.

Which of the LEARN metrics will your submission impact?​

High school graduation rates

Student proficiency in English & Language Arts

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support

Office space for meetings, events, or for staff