Turning Pages, Transforming Lives: How HEF is Addressing Student Literacy Rates in Hillsborough County

literacy ratesThe journey toward academic success begins with a child’s ability to read proficiently by the third grade. Alarming statistics reveal that not even half of Hillsborough County students enter their first year of school “Kindergarten ready.” This troubling trend continues to impact their education, especially when it comes to third-grade reading scores. Research underscores a critical truth: students struggling with reading proficiency are four times less likely to graduate from high school. Waiting until the third grade to address these literacy needs is a luxury many children can’t afford.

Transforming Early Literacy Initiative

Recognizing this urgent need, Hillsborough Education Foundation stepped up to the challenge. With the support of a generous $1.3 million grant from Helios Education Foundation, HEF launched the Transforming Early Literacy Initiative (TELI) last school year. Targeting 12 of the county’s most underserved elementary schools, TELI’s approach is both strategic and data driven. These 12 schools, reporting only 27% proficiency in third grade compared to the district-wide 50%, were identified based on a clear need for early literacy support.

By providing tailored support, HEF aims to create a seamless transition across grade levels for both students and families. The initiative addresses the unique needs of young learners, ensuring that core literacy instruction is not only effective but also personalized.

Aligning with the Literacy Goals of Hillsborough County Public Schools

By working in partnership with the school district, HEF ensures our programs dovetail seamlessly with the broader educational strategy. Through initiatives like TELI, HEF is not just addressing literacy challenges; we’re cultivating a future where every child has the opportunity to thrive academically.

How can parents help?

Children’s academic success by third grade can be attributed to the amount of talk they hear from birth through age 3, according to the Department of Education. Reading to your child daily or a few days a week increases their exposure to early language and literacy and encourages them to read for fun on their own time in the future.

Get Free Books Delivered to Your Home

Help foster a love of learning and reading in your children by growing their personal library with the help of New Worlds Reading Initiative. You can apply to receive free books and reading activities monthly if your child is:

  • A Florida VPK student who is not yet meeting age-appropriate standards according to FAST Star Early Literacy.
  • A Kindergarten through fifth grade student in Florida in a public or district-sponsored charter school who is not yet reading on grade level.

Books are available in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole and braille and you are free to choose the books you receive! Click here to learn more and sign up!