The ability to read is the best predictor of future academic success. Students who fall below grade level in as early as third grade are at serious risk of dropping out of school in future grades.
The Sunnyside Foundation created the Literacy Program as a direct result of requests for resources to support literacy initiatives. Teachers have an especially difficult time in addressing the literacy issues of students without adequate funding for even the very most inexpensive and beneficial tools. These needs are consistent among all schools. More than forty-nine percent of the District elementary students are English language learners; Spanish is the primary language spoken at home.
Excerpt from request, Principal, Dr. Kathleen Bethel
"With more than 97% of our students on Free and Reduced Lunch (the way in which the federal government determines poverty levels) we know that many of their families are often barely functioning in survival mode. Asking parents to spend money on their children’s education is often a choice of whether they will be able to put supper on the table that night."
These has been considerable empirical data compiled that overwhelmingly leads to how vital bringing Early Childhood and Family Literacy programs within the district. If a child is not reading at grade level, by the 3rd grade, they fall behind even faster and have a much less successful overall education experience. If they do not drop out of school, at a later time, it is likely they will not possess the skillsets to find adequate employment, much less graduate and go on to post-secondary education.
Moving into a 21st learning environment is essential for our students and with the help of The Stocker Foundation with awards in 2011 and 2012, The Sunnyside Foundation will be able to provide funding for two very innovative programs.
The 2011 Stocker Foundation grant focuses on Early Childhood Literacy, Pre-K through 1st grade. These primary grades lack in expository materials, especially in the areas of Science and Social Studies. Materials will be used to increase materials for guided reading lessons, as well as a focus on strengthening the classroom libraries.
The 2012 Stocker Foundation grant takes our students a step further into 21st Century learning by inculcating digital literacy into Early Childhood Literacy programs. The innovative iPaduPad Educational Preparation Program, a 21st Century Learning Program, uses tablet technology to help students improve literacy skills across all grade levels. The Improving Early Literacy aspect of the program enables our youngest and elementary school students to increase their reading comprehension and general literacy skills as they are simultaneously improving and learning technological, visual, and informational literacy. Each year since 2010, Arizona public schools have faced significantly reduced soft capital funding levels, and based on the most recent budget information provided by the State Legislature, anticipate this situation continuing and even worsening in the 2012-2013 school year. It is imperative that Sunnyside students are afforded the opportunity to increase literacy skills even as funding for these essential programs decreases annually. This program increases outreach and impact by including 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades.
Provide much needed resources to Elementary school students to improve their knowledge of the English language and improve literacy skills that will have all 3rd graders reading at grade level as they progress to 4th grade.
- • Continue to seek funding for innovative and progressive Early-Childhood and Family Literacy programs
- • Seeing the results of these grants in increased literacy skills by applying these resources
As funding is available resources will continued to be provided to schools. It is the Foundation’s goal to continue to seek funding to provide these resources on an annual basis and to expand the Literacy Program.