Literacy Initiative

The Need

38% of Philadelphia’s youth live in poverty1 and only 17% of Philadelphia’s 4th graders read proficiently.2 Nationally, just 48% of impoverished youth start school with the needed reading readiness skills.3 Research shows that early literacy skills are a key indicator of future academic success in high school and beyond. Children who do not read proficiently by third grade endure long term consequences. Teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty line and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to be a teen parent.4 Impoverished youth not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are 13x more likely not to graduate high school5 than their proficient peers from economically stable households. Unfortunately, due to a lack of resources and funding, many youth attending Philadelphia’s schools are not taught to read a way that is conducive to their learning style and needs.

Our Program

Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia started the Literacy Initiative to bridge the educational gap in Philadelphia’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Today, this program serves over 1,300 youth in 12 of our Clubs. Each Literacy Center is staffed with a full-time supervisor trained in multi-sensory instruction, which emphasizes Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency and Reading Comprehension, the key areas highlighted by the National Reading Panel to support struggling readers.

Program Objectives

By providing structured, engaging instruction and enrichment our Literacy Initiative aims to:

Develop Youth into Successful Lifelong Learners by increasing 4th grade reading proficiency, increasing High School Graduation Rates and promoting an environment where youth are excited to learn and grow

Instill Self Confidence in youth by building pride in their skills and abilities, instilling self-motivation, encouraging leadership and fostering positive self-identity

Increase Awareness about Literacy and Multisensory Education by establishing affordable literacy programs for youth in Boys & Girls Clubs locally and nationally, catalyzing a conversation about the nature of Literacy education across the nation, and developing partnerships with schools and other community organizations to promote Multisensory instruction

Develop Good Character & Leadership by empowering youth and developing them into peer mentors and coaches

Multisensory Approach

According to research by Dr. Reid Lyon up to 2 out of 3 children learn best in a multisensory approach, not in the linear methods of reading comprehension used in most schools. Multisensory approaches integrate auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning modalities into the each step of the process. Through the multisensory Approach to Language, our Literacy Initiative builds on the smallest Unit of sight, sound or thought, teaching to the intellect, and ensuring youth success by providing developmentally appropriate learning experiences in a positive environment.

Multisensory approach to learning Traditional (Linear) approach to learning
Uses multiple pathways to encode information into long-term memory Uses single pathway, building short term memorization and retention
Utilizes a hands-on approach that enables students to strengthen pathways in their brains that connect the visual, auditory and kinesthetic components of language Learning takes place on a perscribed path, relying heavily on rote memorization. Students learn skills in isolation focusing on one sensory pathway at a time

Our Outcomes

We use the DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) assessments to track our youth’s progress. This assessment, designed by the University of Oregon assesses students’ baseline skills and growth in the areas of phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, accuracy and fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. During the 2017-2018 school year, average participants DIBELS scores increased by 73%.

2017-2018 DIBELS Composite Scores

Club Kid Showcase

Ahnisa | Vaird Club

What’s your favorite book?
Pete the Kitty and the Groovy Play Date

Do you read by yourself?
Every day

Do you like to learn new things?

Literacy Initiative Supporters

Allen Hilles Fund
Brethren Community Foundation
Dolfinger McMahon Foundation

Elmer Roe Deaver Foundation
Joseph Kennard Skilling Trust
Kinder Morgan Foundation
Lincoln Financial Foundation
Lindback Foundation

Philadelphia Insurance Company
PNC Charitable Trusts
TD Bank Chritable Foundation
UPMC Health Plans
Waste Management
Wells Fargo Foundation

1PEW Charitable Trusts 2PEW Charitable Trusts3 National Assessment of Educational Progress 4 Anne E Casey Foundation, Double Jeopardy 5 Why Kids Can't Read, Dr. Reid Lyon