Read Better Be Better (RBBB) is an Arizona nonprofit that focuses on improving child literacy, specifically at the 3rd grade level. Students who do not read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade are four times less likely than their peers to graduate high school. RBBB partners struggling 3rd grade Readers with at-risk 6th-8th grade mentor Leaders to meet twice a week for 10 weeks and work through structured curriculum to improve reading comprehension, concentration, and the enjoyment of reading. Learn more about this organization in a video we produced Pre-Covid HERE.
To prevent reading regression during the COVID-19 school closures, RBBB created and distributed Family Literacy Kits to all 2nd and 3rd graders at partner schools, as well as additional kits for distribution at local organizations. The kits were handed out when families arrived at school for meal pickup, and RBBB has been able to distribute 5,128 Family Literacy Kits to 16 organizations and 54 schools in 11 districts since May of 2020
For those children who have been isolated at home, with limited libraries and preoccupied parents, our programming has become more critical than ever. It was imperative that we develop modified implementation strategies as soon as possible to mitigate learning loss.” - Sophie Etchart, Founder and CEO
Partnerships like the ones formed between RBBB and Valley of the Sun United Way are critical in times of economic hardship and adversity, such as the current COVID-19 global pandemic. The good news is, with help from grants like The United for the Valley COVID-19 fund, RBBB was able to distribute Family Literacy Kits to 100% of the schools currently being served that are offering meal pickup, allowing educational achievement to continue, youth development and empowerment to increase, interpersonal connections between caregivers and children to develop, and alleviating the stress put onto caregivers during this time of isolation.
The Family Literacy Kits contained easy-to-use curriculum guides, reading resource sheets, storybooks, sticky notes, and a pencil and sharpener, all in a tote. The curriculum guides provide clear instructions to help caregivers assist their children in gaining reading comprehension skills and can be used for any available reading material in the home, from cereal boxes to comic books, as well as subject textbooks and homework sheets that have been sent from school.
As the new school year has approached once again, the safety of students and families is of the utmost importance and RBBB has altered their after school programs to accommodate for the inability to gather in person. The Read Better Be Better Family Literacy Program provides families with a kit of resources and materials in order to replicate the RBBB after-school program at home. Families that do not have access to a Family Literacy Kit or the means to pick one up from the RBBB office are able to download the Family Literacy Guide in either English or Spanish from their website. Additionally, RBBB has developed training videos in both English and Spanish that demonstrate how to implement the RBBB curriculum and will soon be launching live webinars to provide additional training to families. Students do not need to be affiliated with an RBBB partner school to receive a Family Literacy Kit or use the Family Literacy Program.
Read Better Be Better At Home is targeted to families that have both a 3rd-grader and a middle school student in the home. Modeled after their Family Literacy Program, this format includes a weekly phone check-in with a Site Leader, access to an online library, and the development of reading comprehension abilities for the 3rd-graders as well as leadership skills for the middle school student mentors.
It is in times like this that we unite and adapt to be able to continue providing educational and growth opportunities to our youth. Read Better Be Better is an instrumental organization that will help guide students and families during this transition period for our education system. We are proud to partner with RBBB as they continue to focus on their mission through new and accessible ways of interacting with children. We agree that knowledge is the most powerful thing you can own, and once you have it, no one can ever take it away from you.
For more information on grants distributed in the community, please visit www.vsuw.org/covid19grants. To learn about our organization’s first seven weeks of local response read our ‘Response Report’ available at www.vsuw.org/covidreport.