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Programs & Initiatives

Improving Early Literacy Outcomes
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Enabling and Supporting High Quality, Interconnected and Outcomes-oriented Service Delivery
Defining and Strengthening Pathways to Post-secondary Education and Careers
Public Education & Advocacy


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Improving Early Literacy Outcomes                         

Imagination Library

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a unique early years book gifting program that mails a brand new, age-appropriate book to enrolled children every month from birth until five years of age, creating a home library of
up to 60 books and instilling a love of books and family reading from an early age.

All children from birth to age five who live in the following communities/school districts are welcome to register for the Imagination Library program courtesy of the Bruening Foundation and the Heights Family Foundation:

Sign up here:

Imagination Library celebrated its 20th year in 2015 gifting over 73.9 million books. Imagination Library currently has 1,005,965 children registered. In Greater Cleveland, The Literacy Cooperative will aim to enroll 10,000 children.  The ultimate goal of this initiative is to improve kindergarten readiness and family literacy habits in select communities in Cuyahoga County. For more information, contact Joan Spoerl.


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Reach Out and Read -- Greater Cleveland

By three years of age, a child’s brain is 85% developed.  Parents, caregivers, and communities have an opportunity in the early years of a child’s life to affect brain growth through positive speech and experiences.  There is a 30 million word gap between children from professional families and those children who come from families at or below the poverty level.  Focusing on the power of words gives Greater Cleveland’s youngest brains the foundation for academic success.

Reach Out and Read Greater Cleveland (ROR-GC) capitalizes on the power of words in brain development by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.  At every check-up from 6 months to 5 years old, the doctor or nurse talks with the parents about the importance of reading aloud as the child receives a new age appropriate book to keep. Waiting rooms are enhanced with books, literacy materials, and readers who model appropriate reading aloud techniques.  The ROR model requires cooperation between doctors, nurses, clinic administrators and the community, and ROR-GC has been catalyzing this crucial partnership in Cleveland since 1998.

ROR-GC provides funding to purchase books; support, including collection, warehousing and distribution of new and used books; training of healthcare professionals and support staff; recruitment of volunteer readers; and other assistance. For more information, contact Lynn Foran.


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SPARK Cuyahoga

Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK), a home-based, kindergarten readiness program for three and four-year old children, focuses on helping pre-school age children become ready for kindergarten by helping parents in their role as their child's first teacher. The program provides individual in-home tutoring sessions with parent partners, lessons and activities based on Ohio Early Learning Content Standards, educational supplies, health screenings, assessments and referrals, and assistance with the transition to kindergarten.


SPARK is an initiative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and is currently offered in seven counties in Ohio. SPARK Cuyahoga program services are provided under the umbrella of Invest in Children, Cuyahoga County's public-private partnership serving young children and families.

To learn more, click here to read a Special Edition of our newsletter.


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STEP (Supporting Tutors Engaging Pupils) is a structured tutoring program designed to help build reading and language skills in K-3 students who are below grade level. The goal of STEP is to provide skill-based instruction to improve literacy outcomes by helping students acquire the skills necessary for literacy success.


STEP uses a combination of two research based programs: Ready Readers and Book Buddies. Ready Readers are books with skill based text designed to address the individual needs and abilities of each child. Book Buddies provides the structure for one-on-one, scripted lessons based on assessment. Students receive structured lessons consisting of both re-reading and new reading, word play (phonics) and a writing exercise to practice the phonics skills learned during the lesson. Tutors follow a scripted, research based, four-part lesson plan that supports the development of fluency (through re-reading), vocabulary development, comprehension and word knowledge (through reading new text), alphabetic principle and decoding skills (phonics activities) and writing (writing activities). Lessons are delivered for thirty minutes twice a week. Each participating child is assessed to determine appropriate placement in the scope and sequence associated with the program and is assessed at regular intervals to ensure he/she receives individualized support to address specific learning gaps.


Given the documented importance of learning to read, a pilot of STEP was launched, beginning with first grade students at Marion-Sterling School in Cleveland during the 2010-2011 school year. The lesson plans are scripted so tutors with no background in education can deliver a comprehensive and meaningful instructional lesson. Tutors provide ongoing feedback after each lesson through a journaling system and children are monitored to be sure lessons are delivered at the appropriate skill level (emergent, beginner, or fluent).


Following a successful pilot, STEP has been offered at select schools within the Maple Heights, Euclid and Cleveland Metropolitan School Districts.

To view the STEP brochure, click here.
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