Breaking Barriers by 8 Launches the “10 for 100” Literacy Pledge

SAN FRANCISCO, April 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Among the most affected populations from Covid are young children 0 to 8 years of age whose developing brains are most vulnerable. Children who can’t read proficiently by the end of third grade are more likely to experience poor health, have discipline problems and become teen parents. They are also more likely to drop out of high school. As adults, they are more likely to spend time in prison, struggle with unemployment and face shorter life expectancies. Children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. Of adults with the lowest literacy levels, 43 percent live in poverty, and 70% of adult welfare recipients have low literacy levels. 

Breaking Barriers by 8 (BB8) Co-Chair Steve Carnevale and founder of the UCSF Dyslexia Center, declares, “This is a call to action for all California districts and charter schools to commit at least 10% of their stimulus funding targeted to addressing early literacy.” Carnevale explains, “2021 is a unique moment in time with extraordinary funding to address learning loss. We must take advantage of this opportunity to improve 3rd grade literacy rates that are at a low of 32% and likely even worse due to Covid. However, there are proof points in California and nationwide that exemplify what can be accomplished with committed leadership, the right resources, and effective teaching methodologies. We can achieve 100% literacy for ALL children in California.”

Elizabeth Estes, Co-Chair of BB8 with Carnevale, and founder of Breaking Barriers, which has been working over the past decade to promote the need for a truly integrated system of care for children and families, explains, “I believe 100% literacy is possible if we are truly committed to addressing all the social, emotional, educational, and behavioral well-being of our youngest children. Children will continue to struggle to learn until all these needs are addressed.”  Estes challenges the State, “Children will be in a better place to read If California uses this stimulus money to create an integrated community of care across all state functions, with cross-system goals, coordination, and collaboration.”

The funding to schools resulting from the American Rescue Plan creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jumpstart literacy for every child. “We believe literacy for all is critical to achieving justice for all,” said Patrick Brennan who serves on the BB8 Board and leads its policy initiatives. “If superintendents and school leaders across the State of California commit just 10% of federal stimulus dollars to improving literacy outcomes for California’s young children, we can empower, equip and support our teaching force to ensure struggling learners become proficient readers.”

Teaching all children how to read is a direct investment in California’s future and will impact California’s economy for decades to come. According to a 2020 study by the Boston Consulting Group, not meaningfully addressing dyslexia alone will cost California more than $1T dollars over the life of the current children. According to BCG Managing Director/Partner and BB8 board member Matthew Kropp, “In addition to the budget savings, California will miss out on nearly $340 billion in GDP due to unemployment caused by illiteracy over the next 60 years. In relation to today’s GDP, this is a 0.3% GDP boost if the barriers to literacy are properly addressed.”

BB8 acknowledges that money alone will not improve literacy outcomes. To assist in these efforts BB8 has formed a collaborative of national experts who will work with local educational agencies to contribute their expertise from the fields of neuroscience, behavioral science and structured literacy, to provide a clearinghouse and a community of practice. BB8 endorses research and evidence-based teaching practices and methods that reflect the neuro-translation of young developing brains into the classroom. These include early universal screening, research-based structured literacy teaching practices and meeting the social-emotional needs of students. The 10 for 100 Literacy Pledge is the outgrowth the California Dyslexia Initiative.

BB8 believes literacy is a right, not a privilege. BB8 also believes solving illiteracy is a moral imperative.  With collective commitment, resources, and leadership, we can realize generational change and help break the cycle of poverty, homelessness, and incarceration that results from a lack of access to basic information. This vision of 100% literacy is achievable with COVID one-time opportunity. Join us in the “10 for 100 Literacy Pledge” to commit Stimulus Funds to Early Literacy. We stand in partnership to help accomplish this goal of Literacy for All.

Breaking Barriers by 8 (BB8) is a newly formed not-for-profit entity organized to support increasing literacy in the state of California. Through a public private partnership, BB8 is working with California policy makers, local educational agency leaders, equity and diversity leads, youth-serving agencies, corporate sponsors, philanthropists, UCSF Center for Dyslexia, and state and national reading experts. BB8 is a catalytic backbone organization that advocates for and supports systems change. BB8 is committed to providing some of the connective tissue between research, policy, and practice.

Learn more:

Contact Karen Rosenquist Executive Director – (310) 666-2730

Guiding Principles of BB8

Literacy is an equity issue. The role of basic literacy education in the broader framework of the U.S. Constitution suggests that it is essential to the exercise of other fundamental human rights.

Neuroscience research of a developing brain should inform pedagogical methods because learning is both a cognitive and an emotional process.

Structured literacy training for teachers, TK through grade 3, will lead to improved reading and writing skills for all students.

Well-being and physical health are key influencers on a child’s ability to read and to write to their fullest capability.

Universal screening for language-based learning differences and psychometric data is key to achieving 100% literacy and should be free to all.

Private corporations have a stake in supporting the development of a vital, more diverse workforce and a better quality of life for our communities.

Research and data informed decision making are critical to effective education.

Technology innovations to assist teachers are part of the solution.

Media Contact: Karen Rosenquist (310) 666-2730
School Contact: Patrick Brennan (202) 738-7722
Learning Ally Media Contact: Valerie Chernek (410) 960-4060

SOURCE Learning Ally