The Philadelphia-based William Penn Foundation has announced the launch of a two-year, $2 million community-based initiative to connect children and families in the city's low-income neighborhoods to informal literacy-rich learning opportunities.
Through the Informal Learning Initiative, eighteen nonprofit partners will join forces to design literacy-rich opportunities that enable parents, caregivers, and children to experience creative play and discovery geared toward developing their vocabulary, oral language, writing, and comprehension skills. Partners in the initiative include the Barnes Foundation, the Franklin Institute, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Fleisher Art Memorial, and other cultural institutions in the city, as well as organizations like Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Children's Village, and the People's Emergency Center that have deep roots in the low-income communities they serve. The program, which is aligned with the city-wide Read by 4th campaign, is expected to serve approximately 1,780 children and will make it easier for partners to take early learning programming directly to families in ways that not only engage children but also involve adults as active participants.
"There is very strong evidence that shows young children learn best in engaging and interactive environments with meaningful content, and places like museums, community centers, parks, and playgrounds are particularly suitable for such experiences," said Elliot Weinbaum, director of the Great Learning Program at the William Penn Foundation. "What the Informal Learning Initiative is designed to do is level the playing field by creating high-quality programming embedded in communities across the city and removing barriers like cost and transportation to provide access to our fantastic cultural institutions for low-income families."