The Issue

Education is the bedrock for addressing disparities in our community; it is a human right and essential to ensuring that all children meet their greatest potential.  Yet research shows that out of the starting gate, children who grow up in poverty face hurdles that can become nearly insurmountable if not addressed early. Children growing up in low-income families are exposed to less verbally rich home environments and are less likely to attend preschool, creating a ‘word gap’ of millions of words between them and their more affluent peers before they’ve even entered kindergarten.

Significant research shows that reading aloud to children from day one is the single most important thing a parent can do to help a child enter kindergarten ready to succeed. In Sonoma County, however, only 57% of parents read to their children every day. It is critical that we equip parents with the knowledge and tools they need to be effective role models and teachers, and remove the obstacles—real or perceived—to engaging their children in reading.

The Grant Program

This grant program ran from 2015 to 2018.

In partnership with Cradle to Career we launched the community literacy campaign iREAD in 2015 to promote parents and family members reading to their young children. Through iREAD we sought to raise awareness that no matter what activity parents are doing with their children, they can build literacy at the same time—by reading the back of a cereal box, traffic signs or describing the pictures in a book.

To view and download the iREAD images, visit Cradle to Career Sonoma County’s website.

Community Foundation Sonoma County’s iREAD grants program enabled community organizations with trusted relationships with families of young children to explore innovative ways of promoting family literacy in new or existing programs.

We prioritized proposals that had a clear, strong path for promoting family literacy. Criteria included:

  • Program increases the number of days per week parents or other family members read to their children
  • Families and children receiving support may not typically have access to books or literacy training
  • Key staff implementing the program have experience working with families

Grants for the iREAD program were $10,000.