Member Moment: Literacy First Giving Young Students a Reading Start




55% of Central Texas students are not reading at grade level, but Literacy First is on a mission to change that statistic. Literacy First, the largest K-2 early literacy daily intervention program in Central Texas, “provides low-income schools with highly trained AmeriCorps tutors to ensure that children advance to grade level in reading before third grade.” Over the last 24 years, their research-based and data-driven programs have given more than 20,000 Central Texas students a brighter future.

At their Annual Literacy Luncheon on April 24, Literacy First Director, Dr. Mary Ellen Isaacs, shared how the organization is working to close the reading achievement gap before third grade, and how their phenomenal AmeriCorps tutors play a crucial role in doing that.  And because of rigorous evaluations, through the years, they know their daily, one-to-one intervention works.

“Our tutors not only build reading skills, they build confidence and perseverance in our students. They tell each student, ‘I believe in you. You can do this hard thing. Look at how hard you’ve worked, and look at what you can do now.’” – Dr. Mary Ellen Isaacs, Literacy First Director.

Full time, AmeriCorps tutors Jo Anna Reyes and Sara Barriot have both experienced how their hard work has made an impact in their students’ lives.

“When you start working with a student at the beginning of the year, and then look back at the end of the year to see all the progress they’ve made, it’s incredibly rewarding to know that you’ve played a role in that.” – Jo Anna Reyes, Literacy First Tutor

“At Literacy First, you fall in love with these kids and your job, and it makes it that much more rewarding to see them succeed and have a chance for a better life after helping them through all their struggles.”
Sara Barriot, Literacy First Tutor

Literacy First works in tandem with teachers, reading specialists and principals to be sure they are meeting students’ needs. Working together, they provide a safety net for struggling students, and ensure they master those critical early reading skills and can take full advantage of the resources and learning in their classroom. Literacy First currently serves nearly 2000 students in 26 schools in Austin and Pflugerville, and will expand to Del Valle next year.

Literacy First has been a Mission Capital Member since 2012. They’ve recently attended the 2016 Mission Capital Conference, the 2016 Data Institute and Mission Driven 2017. Numerous Literacy First leaders have also joined us for Next Level Leadership Academy and member-only Mission Meet-Ups.

Thank you, Literacy First, for your dedication to improving students’ lives in our community! We’re proud to support you on your mission to closing the reading achievement gap in Central Texas. Visit the Literacy First website to learn how you can make a difference in children’s lives by donating or refer someone to become a tutor.

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