By Jennifer Van Pelt & Sara Mortensen
The 15th Annual Author’s Luncheon & Fundraiser is coming up on October 19th and this year our signature fundraising event theme is: Fund a Mind, Transform a Life. This event is important to our organization in many ways, but the most important is this: the Author’s Luncheon & Fundraiser provides a significant amount of our income and allows us to continue to deliver high-quality literacy programs all over San Diego. When you buy a ticket to the event, donate towards a silent auction item, or contribute in the ballroom on the day-of, you are helping us fund the minds and transform the lives of the students and families we serve.
Fund a Mind
Literacy is a foundational skill that is so easily taken for granted by many, yet nearly 450,000 San Diego County residents are considered illiterate. Literacy is a skill that is shown to not only have a relationship to someone’s socioeconomic status and earning capabilities, but can also transform one’s life by allowing them a well-rounded and fulfilling education that enables them to effectively communicate and participate in the communities around them.
According to the EARLY WARNING! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, up until the third grade, most children are learning to read. Beginning in the fourth grade, however, they are reading to learn, using their skills to gain more information in subjects such as math and science, to solve problems, to think critically about what they are learning, and to act upon and share that knowledge in the world around them. This turning point at the end of the third grade is why growing amounts of resources are being directed towards children in Kindergarten through third grade.
In fact, research like this is the reason why we have strategically designed our Read Aloud Program to target this age range. Reading aloud to young children is the most important thing we can do to help them become motivated, strong readers and in the Words Alive Read Aloud Program trained volunteers read aloud each week to approximately 4,300 children from early childhood education and Title 1 - eligible elementary school sites across San Diego.
Additionally, research from Yale University has indicated that three-quarters of students who are “poor readers” in third grade will remain “poor readers” in high school. Not surprisingly, students with relatively low literacy achievement tend to have more behavioral and social problems in subsequent grades. By focusing on providing additional literacy resources during these key years, it is helping to ensure that these children have the tools to succeed in following years.
Transform a Life
Effective literacy education needs to reach more than just the students that are between Kindergarten and third grade, however. An article published on WCNC states that reading to your child, even in the womb, can activate brain development, increase vocabulary by 24 months, and decrease risk of speech delay. Though this is a known fact amongst experts and doctors, not all parents are aware of the importance this holds on their child’s future success. Educating families as a whole on when to read to their children and what techniques they can use is equally important. Literacy skills can start building from an early age and are building blocks for reading proficiency by the end of third grade.
Words Alive’s Family Literacy Program aims to empower parents as agents of change and advocates for their families by meeting parents where they are and giving them the "ah-ha!" moments that lead to deeper engagement with their children. Parents in the program attend seven workshops, receiving approximately ten hours of parent education covering early literacy development topics specific to preschool age children. Each workshop includes a tailored information session and skill-building exercises for parents, a group story time, and guided activities for parents and children.
As we know here at Words Alive, literacy goes beyond the simple act of reading words off a page and interpreting their meaning. Dr. Berninger, Professor Emerita of Educational Psychology at the University of Washington mentioned in a New York Times article, “Literacy involves all aspects of language, including our oral language, what we hear and say, and our written language, what we read and write.” She called it “language by ear, mouth, eye and hand.” As children grow and develop, they cannot be denied the resources that allow them to learn these skills.
All of our programs at Words Alive aim to , ensure that children are able to build the skills that can transform their lives and help them become well-rounded individuals with the power to change their communities for the better.
Simply put: Words Alive uses all donations to fund the minds of children, which helps them transform their lives. Join us for our Author’s Luncheon & Fundraiser, where you can enjoy a wonderful afternoon while knowing that your actions are making a difference in the state of literacy education in your community.
Click here for more information, and to purchase tickets or a table for the 15th Annual Author’s Luncheon & Fundraiser.