Bright Spots are written and produced by the Campaign to showcase the work in Grade-Level Reading communities to make progress on school readiness, school attendance and summer learning by 2016. Continue reading below or Download a PDF version.

Fifty-thousand children from low-income families in the greater San Francisco Bay Area will benefit from summer programs designed to help them read proficiently thanks to a philanthropic initiative tied to Super Bowl 50, the football championship to be played in Santa Clara, California, in February 2016.

Kicked off in summer 2015, The Re(a)d Zone (a play on the football term “the red zone”) is a signature initiative of the 50 Fund, the philanthropic arm of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. It was co-developed with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and is co-sponsored by the GLR Bay Area communities.

The 14-month initiative will invest in, strengthen and build the capacity of high-quality, literacy-enhancing programs that increase third-grade reading proficiency throughout the Bay Area. Serving as a catalyst to put the region on a path to have the highest percentage of low-income kids who are proficient readers by 2020, the initiative’s core focus is addressing “the summer slide” — learning loss during the summer that can slow the reading ability of children from low-income families.

The Re(a)d Zone also is working to raise awareness and mobilize action. It will enlist 50,000 “literacy champions” to serve as volunteer tutors, book donors and early literacy advocates. In the fall, The Re(a)d Zone will spotlight initiatives leading up to an early literacy summit during Super Bowl week including Attendance Awareness Month (September), National Family Literacy Month (November) and two national campaigns, Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® and Read Aloud 15 MINUTES.

Supporting grade-level reading was a good fit for the 50 Fund, which aims to leverage the high-profile Super Bowl to help close “the opportunity gap” between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers, says Jason Trimiew, a Host Committee spokesman.

“This is not only foundational to helping kids in our region be successful, particularly low-income kids, but something people can rally around. Everyone can do something about grade-level reading and early literacy, whether it’s donating books or tutoring a young learner,” says Trimiew. The Re(a)d Zone is a way “to amplify the momentum that already exists in this movement. We want to go where there are strengths and real impact.”

The 50 Fund has pledged $1 million, to date, for the initiative’s first seven months, with grants going to summer book clubs, libraries, nonprofits and community initiatives to expand their work. This includes work to help struggling readers catch up, help marginally proficient readers avoid summer learning loss and provide children — especially children living in public housing — with books, reading programs and early literacy support.

A $250,000 lead contribution from Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy, a philanthropic initiative led by Justin Tuck, two-time Super Bowl champion and Raiders all-pro defensive end, and his wife, Lauran, will provide books through efforts including First Book, Imagination Library, Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® and myOn, a large interactive digital library.

Some of the key 50 Fund investments include: 

  • $100,000 as a $1:$1 match to provide new high-quality books through First Book, to support Bay Area summer literacy programs that serve children in need. 
  • $250,000 to strengthen summer reading programs at libraries and provide access to online literacy supports including and Smarty Ants
  • $350,000 for small grants to support community initiatives that strengthen and/or integrate early literacy into existing summer programs. Communities are encouraged to seek matching funds as a way to build the long-term sustainability of their work. 

“It’s fantastic. It is going to make a difference and it has gotten a lot of people interested,” says Laurel Kloomok, executive director of First 5 San Francisco, the community lead for the local GLR campaign. 

“We certainly have our population of children who need extra pushes during the summer. Continuing learning over the summer, going on field trips, seeing museums and outdoor learning does have an influence, expands vocabulary and has a direct impact on grade-level reading.” 

For more information, contact Laurel Kloomok at 415-554-9250 or laurel.kloomok@first5sf.orgPhotos: First 5 San Francisco and Rogers Family Foundation; Publication Date: Summer 2015. To nominate a community to be featured as a Bright Spot, please contact Betsy Rubiner at


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Betsy Rubiner is a writer and senior consultant with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

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  • This all sounds great. I especially love the idea of small grants for existing summer programs to use to integrate literacy.
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