The McKnight Foundation has announced a new focus on building literacy rates of Twin Cities children by third grade.
In making the announcement about this new early child development goal, the foundation cited the importance of early literacy to development of successful adults and prosperous communities.
“In the Twin Cities today, 41% of third-graders read below grade level,” said Robert J. Struyk, McKnight board chair. “McKnight has long focused on providing children with the resources to become successful and engaged community contributors. Better preparing our youngest to read and write at grade level will help put them and keep them on track for graduation and beyond.”
The literacy focus builds on McKnight’s current early childhood work, with special emphasis on transitions from kindergarten through third grade. Third grade reading skills are a high predictor of high school graduation rates. Less than 80% of Twin Cities students graduate from high school, and rates are closer to 40% for Asian, Hispanic and Black students.
To address the educational achievement gap, McKnight will collaborate with early education advocates in nonprofits, business, philanthropy, and the formal education system.
Over the coming years, the foundation will make some adjustments to its current work, discontinuing discrete grantmaking to support fatherhood development, parenting skills building, and family economic success. McKnight will continue funding multiservice family support
organizations. Decisions about future support for out-of-school time and homeless and runaway youth programs are still under consideration.
The new funding focus will be managed within McKnight’s Region &
Communities grantmaking program. This summer the foundation will hire a program officer to lead the literacy work.
The level of financial investment in the literacy goal was not announced. Later this year, McKnight will release new grantmaking guidelines.