After a year of researching and forging relationships, Read Charlotte is now ready to start putting their plan into action.
Executive Director Munro Richardson has been laying out some of their findings in meetings with community leaders and nonprofits over the last few weeks. Soon will come the task of getting funding and manpower behind them.
“We’ll be actually working to mobilize the dollars and people to make it happen,” he said.
I caught up with him at the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum this week to hear a little bit more about what’s next.
What is Read Charlotte?
The easiest way to describe Read Charlotte is to state its end goal: Doubling the percentage of third-grade children in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools who are proficient in reading from less than 40 percent to 80 percent by 2025.
It’s not a program. Read Charlotte doesn’t recruit volunteers to go out into the schools. Rather, their mission is to serve as something of an “air traffic controller” to coordinate and guide all the efforts going on in the community and make sure they’re being done in an efficient and smart way.
The initiative came together with $5.5 million in funding from 9 organizations including Charlotte’s big banks and The Belk Foundation. Richardson was hired as the executive director, and they’ve spent the last year doing a deep dive into the research on how to boost reading.
They’ve come up with 5 areas Charlotte can focus on to make the biggest impact
Richardson said his team was looking for things that do an above-average job of boosting reading skills. They fall in the following buckets.
- Actively reading with children
- High-quality, structured tutoring
- Reading during the summer months
- Including families in the process
- Training adults to teach specific reading skills
This fall, they’ll be pushing for some specific programs to get these done
While all the specifics aren’t yet known, Richardson said some it’s clear some of the efforts will be around getting more books in the hands of children. He said there’s a clear “book desert” in central Charlotte, with many children reporting having few or no books at home.
Richardson said there will also likely be an effort with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library to help train parents and mentors in how to better help readers learn.
I wouldn’t be surprised if other recommendations would center around more summer reading camps for younger students. The state and school district fund camps for third graders to help them boost reading proficiency enough to pass to the next grade. But “Third grade is too late to find out children are behind,” Richardson said.
Look for more specific recommendations to come out around September.
“This is not a quick fix,” Richardson said. “We are plowing new frontier.”