Lehigh Valley Reads Awarded $1 million to Expand Student-Centered Learning

Posted: March 19, 2019

Allentown, PA, March 19, 2019 — Lehigh Valley Reads, powered by United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and PBS39, is pleased to announce it has received a $1 million grant through the Together for Students initiative to implement a student-centered blueprint for learning. This grant award will fund a more integrated, intentional system for meeting the unique needs of every child to transform how the entire community supports student-centered learning.

Lehigh Valley Reads is a regional literacy campaign committed to ensuring that all Lehigh Valley students read on grade level by the end of third grade by 2025.  Third grade is the pivotal moment when children transition from learning how to read, to reading to learn, and it is the most important predictor of high school graduation and future life success.  

“Last year, a third of Lehigh Valley students were reading below grade level. Lehigh Valley Reads wants to change that. This important work has the potential to make large-scale, transformational change resulting in an improved quality of life across our region,” said Jill Pereira, Vice President Education & Impact, UWGLV and LV Reads Steering Committee Co-Chair. “The Together for Students grant will allow us to make significant strides toward literacy goals in the Lehigh Valley and effect thousands of students around the region.”

To work toward their literacy goal, LV Reads will focus on three primary audiences: school districts and educators, children and families, and community members from diverse sectors. To implement this program, school districts and educators as well as families will be offered support and evidence-based strategies. This grant was awarded to ensure Lehigh Valley Reads provides a holistic, culturally and linguistically relevant learning community, including creating a regional data warehouse and embedding students and families in decision making.

The Greater Lehigh Valley is one of four communities receiving a combined $3.75 million in funding through Together for Students, a joint partnership among Coalition for Community Schools, Communities In Schools and StriveTogether. The collective goal is to showcase how collaborative decision making among families, educators and partners can create better outcomes for nearly 100,000 youth.

“As a former local affiliate of the Coalition for Community Schools, I can’t tell you how excited I am about elevating the lessons learned from these four communities on how we all can unite our efforts on behalf of all young people,” said Jose Munoz, Institute for Educational Leadership vice president of Equity and Impact.

 “There is no one-size-fits-all fix for the challenges facing America’s students,” said Dale Erquiaga, Communities In Schools president and CEO. “Individual communities know what they need to do to get their students on the path to success — the Together for Students grants will help our communities make those ideas a reality. From giving youth access to engaging learning opportunities to expediting academic growth, these community-designed, student-centered plans will create real change with generational effects.”

“We refuse to settle for a world where a child’s potential is dictated by the conditions in which the child is born,” said Jennifer Blatz, StriveTogether president and CEO. “Through the Cradle to Career Network, we see the power of communities to create local change that gets better results for kids. This initiative shows we can accomplish even more by working together across our three networks and truly putting students at the center.”

This set of grants is the second phase of the Together for Students initiative. The first phase involved giving grants of up to $150,000 to 10 communities to support development of student-centered learning approaches.

With support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Coalition for Community Schools, Communities In Schools and StriveTogether launched Together for Students to accelerate the progress of communities in transforming how they meet the needs of individual learners, particularly the most vulnerable. Over the past few years, they have advanced student-centered learning — an approach that combines quality educational opportunities with health and wellness services, mentoring, college readiness activities and work-based learning experiences.

All three organizations support networks that focus on students from early education through postsecondary completion and employment. Together, they lead a movement that aligns resources and unites families, educators and local partners around this student-centered goal, with their combined networks totaling nearly 300 communities.
About Lehigh Valley Reads
Lehigh Valley Reads is a regional literacy campaign committed to ensuring that all Lehigh Valley students read on grade level by the end of third grade by 2025.  This collective impact initiative is powered by United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and PBS39.  With over 100 community partners working together to maximize resources, Lehigh Valley Reads is a collective impact initiative with five key focus areas: early childhood education, summer learning, school attendance, trauma informed classrooms, and community schools.

About Coalition for Community Schools
The Coalition for Community Schools, an initiative of the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), is an alliance of national, state and local organizations that utilize community schools as an equitable continuous improvement strategy for public schools, and an approach to build stronger and healthier families and communities.

About Communities In Schools
Working directly in more than 2,350 schools in 25 states and the District of Columbia, Communities In Schools is the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization proven to keep students in school and on the path to graduation. For the 2016-2017 school year, Communities In Schools served nearly 1.6 million students and successfully helped 99 percent of our case-managed students stay in school.

About StriveTogether
StriveTogether is a national movement with a clear purpose: help every child succeed in school and in life from cradle to career, regardless of race, zip code or circumstance. In partnership with nearly 70 communities across the country, StriveTogether provides resources, best practices and processes to give every child every chance for success. The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 13.7 million students and has partners in 29 states and Washington, D.C.