Read Charlotte, a public-private collaboration comprising fourteen companies and charitable organizations in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, has announced the launch of a $5.5 million community-wide children's literacy initiative.
The initiative aims to double the percentage of third-grade students reading at grade level to 80 percent by 2025. To that end, a total of $4.6 million in multiyear commitments has been pledged by nine lead funders. They include the Bank of America, the Belk, PNC, PwC Charitable, and CD Spangler foundations; the Duke Endowment; Duke Energy; the Foundation for the Carolinas, and Wells Fargo. In addition, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, the Mecklenburg County Library, and the UNC Charlotte College of Education are providing in-kind support. A staff of three will facilitate and administer activities, gather and share data, build awareness and public support, advance policy, and mobilize funding.
"Mecklenburg County has a serious reading crisis," said Katie B. Morris, Read Charlotte governing board member and chair of the Belk Foundation. "More than half of all third-graders in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are not reading at grade level, and while there's a concentration in lower-income areas, these children come from every single school, neighborhood, and income level in this county."