The District of Columbia Housing Authority has been awarded a place on the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s 2015-2016 Honor Roll for its work boosting children’s literacy.
DCHA is one of 40 housing authorities participating in the campaign to bring books into the homes of young people.
“We have locked arms with our local library system,” said DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman. “DCHA and D.C. Public Libraries are actively going into our communities and bringing books to children. As they grow their love of reading, they also grow their future opportunities.”
There are more than one million children younger than eight years-old that live in public housing in the United States. Research shows that 80 percent of children from low-income families enter kindergarten so unprepared that they do not catch up and cannot read at grade level by the end of third grade. This can determine whether a child will graduate high school.
“Housing is a critical platform and portal for early learning and early school success,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We applaud and celebrate each of these public housing agencies for taking up the challenge to increase reading proficiency, improve the overall academic achievement, and ultimately improve the life trajectories of children in low-income families. Their commitment to maintain, strengthen and scale existing literacy programs and partnerships demonstrates that the momentum for this work will continue to build.”
As part of the campaign, the 40 public housing authorities are focusing on chronic absenteeism, encouraging adults to read to children, creating policy changes, and establishing networks to support housing authorities with diverse and high quality books.
DCHA’s focus is establishing the local and national network to support and increase literacy within its communities. Early this year, DCHA announced it is part of a collaborative effort called Book-Rich Environments that was launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Education.
"One of the Library’s goals for young people who live in the District is to love reading. With programs like the Book Rich Environment initiative and STAR: Books from Birth, children can grow up in homes filled with books that interest them. When kids love their personal libraries, they are more likely to want visit their public library. When this culture of reading takes root, our young people show up to school ready to read and are better prepared to do well in school and beyond," said Hilary Espinosa, a D.C. Public Library assistant manager for the Books from Birth program.