Fifty-three percent of children in Oneida and Herkimer counties cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade.
The consequences of that statistic can wreak havoc on a community, including increasing intergenerational poverty, widening the achievement gap and increasing high school dropout rates, according to a news release.
The Literacy Coalition of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, which is supported and funded by the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, has identified the statistic and is working to change that through the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Patrick Corvington, a senior fellow for the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, will visit the area on Oct. 22 to assess what the community is doing to improve this rate.
At 5:30 p.m., Corvington will meet with community members at Rome Free Academy and have an open dialogue about how the nation can increase the percentage of proficient third grade readers.
The campaign is an initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Community members are invited to attend and should RSVP by emailing Lara Sepanski-Pimentel at email@example.com.
“We have the opportunity to put our best foot forward and show how we’re working to increase third grade reading levels,” said Lara Sepanski-Pimentel, executive director of the Literacy Coalition, in the release. “We hope that with Mr. Corvington’s visit, he will see the good work we are doing in our area and share it nationally.”
The Literacy Coalition’s Campaign for Grade Level Reading currently is focused on three local schools — Bellamy Elementary School and Gansevoort Elementary School in Rome and Dolgeville Elementary School. The implemented programs designed to reach that goal are heavily focused on community integration:
• The Rome Chamber’s education committee is organizing a basketball game between police and fire departments. Money raised will go toward the creation of lending libraries.
• MVCC-SUNY Canton’s dental program will seal all second graders’ teeth for free, hoping to address the correlation between dental issues and lack of concentration in school.
• A school readiness partnership in Dolgeville is increasing home visits to families with pre-kindergartners to ensure children are school-ready, closing the learning gap before children enter the classroom.
“Supporting the efforts of the Literacy Coalition is perfectly aligned with the foundation’s 25/25 goal — to increase the percentage of bachelor’s degrees in Herkimer and Oneida counties to 25 percent by 2025,” said Peggy O’Shea, president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation, in the release. “Funding programs, such as the Literacy Coalition, is one of the many investments we are making to ensure the community is successful in meeting this goal.”