Lehigh Valley Reads Nationally Recognized for Advancing Early School Success

Posted: July 28, 2022

Building Home Libraries Initiative and Online Preschool program awarded for community’s contributions by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Allentown, PA, July 28, 2022 – The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) recently announced that Lehigh Valley Reads received Pacesetter Honors for its work in 2021-22 to ensure more students are ready for kindergarten and more families have access to diverse books at home.
“Lehigh Valley Reads is honored to be recognized again nationally for the work we are doing that directly impacts children and families,” said Angela Zanelli, Campaign Director for Lehigh Valley Reads. “With the amount of good work going on across the nation, we are humbled that The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has seen our progress and hope to continue to build our infrastructure and sustainability to continue to make change.”
CGLR is a collaborative effort by funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.
“Our focus is on finding the bright spots and silver linings that highlight how dozens of states are working to advance early school success and accelerate equitable learning recovery,” says Ralph Smith, managing director of CGLR. “We applaud the civic leaders and local funders whose time, talent, energy and imagination have fueled progress in these Pacesetter Communities.”
Each year, the CGLR uses its Pacesetter Honors to highlight communities across the United States that exemplify extraordinary vision and best practices for their work on key indicators of early school success. This month, CGLR awarded Lehigh Valley Reads with Pacesetter Honors in two categories: implementation of an online preschool option and their Home Libraries Initiative.
Lehigh Valley Reads, powered by United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and Lehigh Valley Public Media, partnered with Waterford.org to provide 125 children access to Waterford Upstart PreK program last year. Despite the pandemic, the results showed an overwhelming success, with 93% of students enrolled entering school on the first day ready for kindergarten. Waterford Upstart is an in-home, early education program that prepares 4-year-old children for kindergarten. The program provides positive parent-child interactions while delivering personalized, online instruction 15 minutes a day, five days a week.
"This may have been a small pilot, but it was a mighty one,” stated Angela. “Nearly all of the students who participated in the program entered kindergarten ready to learn this year. We believe this program could be one additional tool in our toolbox when it comes to ensuring that all our children are ready for kindergarten.”
Lehigh Valley Reads’ Building Home Libraries Initiative was created during the height of pandemic when schools transitioned to virtual learning. In response to the state of the community, and the world, Lehigh Valley Reads prioritized providing books to students that reflect diverse beliefs, cultures and lifestyles so that all students could see themselves in the books they read, as well as learn about others. The initiative has continued to expand since its introduction in 2020 and has distributed more than 7,500 books across the region.
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.  

About Lehigh Valley Public Media™
Lehigh Valley Public Media is home to PBS39, WLVR News, and various community initiatives. We are the regional leader in the publicly funded, non-profit media space and serve a vibrant and growing economic region through a dedication to local, unbiased journalism, primary and secondary education, workforce development and health and wellness. PBS39 broadcasts four additional channels of content: PBS39 Extra, WORLD, Create TV and France 24. Lehigh Valley Public Media is licensed in Allentown to the Lehigh Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation. For more information, visit PBS39.org.

About United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley
United Way fights for the health, safety and education of every person in the Greater Lehigh Valley and envisions communities where every person belongs and every person thrives. We strive to achieve this goal by assessing community needs, raising funds, investing in solutions and mobilizing our community to action. For more information, visit www.UnitedWayGLV.org.

About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Launched in 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. Since its launch, CGLR has grown to include more than 300 communities, representing 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and two provinces in Canada — with 5,000+ local organizations and 510 state and local funders (including 200+ United Ways). To learn more, visit gradelevelreading.net and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.