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PRESS RELEASE - 8/23/2017


Laura Larimer, Senior Development Officer 
646 943 8763


New program uses creative approach to help 1,500 students improve reading comprehension


New York, NYExpandED Schools, a New York City nonprofit dedicated to closing the learning gap, has received a $1,889,000, two-year grant from The New York Community Trust’s Brooke Astor Fund for New York City Education. The funding will help expand a program called Ready Readers, which is designed to improve students’ reading skills—not just decoding, but critical thinking—in the early elementary grades. 

It works by training community educators, many without formal teaching credentials, to deliver high-quality literacy instruction in expanded learning and after-school programs. Educators are trained to use read alouds, art projects and peer-to-peer discussions to help young readers increase fluency, build oral expression and make connections between the text and their lives, as well as the world around them.

ExpandED Schools is working with six community-based organizations—CAMBA, Chinese-American Planning Council, NIA, Child Center of New York, Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation, and Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation—to bring Ready Readers to communities across New York City. Ready Readers creates literacy-rich school environments that provide more time for reading support during the after-school hours, fosters collaboration between classroom teachers and after-school educators, and uses proven teaching practices that benefit all students, not just those targeted for interventions.

Community educators participate in 36 hours of professional development during the school year and collaborate with classroom teachers to offer at least two hours of after-school literacy instruction each week. The trainings cultivate instructional practices that help engage students, spur critical thinking, develop vocabularies and promote verbal communication.

Ready Readers reached more than 900 first through third graders in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan in the 2016-2017 school year. With this new funding, it will expand to reach more than 1,500 students in 27 schools across all 5 boroughs this fall.

The New York Community Trust has made significant investments in ExpandED Schools since 2000. This is the fourth grant the organization has received from The Brooke Astor Fund for New York City Education, bringing the total to $2,818,000. Overall, the Brooke Astor Fund is investing $45 million from the estate of leading New York philanthropist Brooke Astor to help children from low-income communities learn to love and master reading.


“We are grateful for the support of the Brooke Astor Fund. Data shows that reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. At the heart of our mission is the desire for children living in underserved communities to have the opportunities and tools they need to develop their full potential. Literacy is a critical piece of this puzzle.”
– Lucy Friedman, President and Founder of ExpandED Schools

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to spread promising literacy practices across the city through our support of ExpandED Schools. We believe that building the capacity of the after-school field to support children’s literacy development—tapping into the talents of caring after-school staff—will lead to more kids reading confidently and succeeding in school.”
– Shawn V. Morehead, Program Director, Promising Futures, The New York Community Trust

“I am most proud of being able to think outside the box. Students are in school for eight hours and I know they might be bored or not have energy to learn, but seeing how much fun they are having during the activities and read alouds I plan really puts a smile on my face. Having students learn to love to read and love books is an accomplishment I am very proud of.”
– Community Educator at PS 42





About ExpandED Schools

ExpandED Schools is a NYC-based nonprofit dedicated to closing the learning gap by increasing access to enriched education experiences. It promotes school/community partnerships that build more hours into the school day, bring more role models into the classroom and infuse more joy into learning through arts, sports, literacy, STEM and character-building activities. Since its founding in 1998, when it created the nation’s first citywide system of K-12 after-school programming, the organization has expanded opportunities for more than 1,000,000 kids in the belief that all children, from every zip code, deserve opportunities to discover their talents and develop their full potential. To learn more, please visit http://expandedschools.org/


About The New York Community Trust 

Through the generosity of New Yorkers who have set up charitable funds with us, we are able to make grants for a huge range of charitable activity so important to the well-being and vitality of our city. We are New York City’s community foundation, and one of the largest funders of City nonprofits. Since 1924, The Trust has helped make donors’ charitable dreams come true by funding the nonprofits that make our city a vital and secure place.