This PDF from Read On Arizona presents their coalition's accomplishments this year, what's coming this fall, and individual updates and reflections from each of the communities in the statewide coalition. It also contains their answers to the questions posed in Tell Our Story, excerpted below:

What is working?

  • Implementation of in-home family literacy coaching services in the three target neighborhoods. Coaches help families create more supportive literacy environments in their homes and connect them to available community resources.  It's our hope that this individualized approach will reach some of the highest risk, hardest to find children and families, and enroll them in other early literacy supports such as the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and/or KinderCamp.

  • In-home family literacy coaches report that they can establish trust more quickly with families because the coaches themselves live in the neighborhoods they’re serving.

  • KinderCamp™ is very successful and will be expanded next summer to Hopi, Grand Canyon and Holbrook.  Three out of five of the current KinderCamp™ school districts have indicated they would like to expand the number of classrooms at their current sites. Data shows that 54% of students who attended KinderCamp™ last summer (2012) were fully ready for kindergarten.  Only 35% of those students with little or no preschool or early care experiences were fully ready for kindergarten.

What have you accomplished?

  • Conducted 14 KinderCamp classrooms in Coconino County this summer (2013).

  • Conducted a Community Scan of Literacy Resources for Children and Families (1st draft arrived this week).

  • Held a kickoff dinner for Read On Flagstaff in January 2013.

  • Received grant award from the ACF of $55k for evaluation of the ROF project.

  • Have pending grant application with the Flagstaff Community Foundation for support of one of the KinderCamp™ sites, for the costs of a facilitator for a Community of Practice comprised of early education providers and for matching funds for quality improvement mini-grants for informal care providers.

  • Contracted with ASR for evaluation of Read On Flagstaff and putting measurements in place for all Read On Flagstaff strategies.

  • Created a new position of Literacy Coordinator to oversee many of the Read On Flagstaff strategies, particularly KinderCamp™.

  • Obtained more than 1,000 books so that the in-home family literacy coaches have age appropriate books to give families to start or augment their home libraries.

Which barriers have proven most challenging?

  • It’s been challenging to retain the coaches.  We planned to have 3 coaches, one for each targeted neighborhood, each one working 12 hours/week for 12/hr.  We’ve learned that the coaches need more time with families, more hours/week and that we won’t meet the numbers we committed to in our Helios grant without increasing the coaches time on the job.  We’ve also learned that $12/hr. is not enough for part-time work.  There’s been turnover of coaches because they needed more hours on the job and/or higher salaries.

  • We’re trying to understand how to best develop a CoP for early care providers and a ROF Collaborative, and what that the costs might be.  We definitely underestimated the costs of the commitments we made to the Helios Education Foundation but the good news is that Helios is willing to consider proposed changes to our scope of work.

 What have been the biggest surprises? Disappointments?

  • Both a surprise and disappointment . . . It took longer than expected to get the coaching services off the ground --- to find the right people for the positions, hire and train them.  After all three coaches were trained we lost two of them to better paying positions.  We are looking at how we can reallocate Helios and United Way of Northern Arizona funds to expand the coaches FTE’s from 1.08 to 2.0, to increase the coaches’ hourly wages and to put in place a full-time lead coach to coordinate the services and provide ongoing training of current and future coaches.

Have there been any unexpected benefits? Costs?

  • One benefit, which we didn’t fully expect, was how much we’ve been enlightened and inspired by being a part of Read On Arizona, Read On Cities and the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading. We have a lot to learn and a long way to go but we are more visionary than we might be otherwise because of the larger partnerships we relate to. 

  • We definitely underestimated the costs of the strategies we want to put in place so a fair amount of staff time is spent on obtaining resources.

  • Being a part of a national and statewide effort has helped position the local Read On Flagstaff effort and the United Way of Northern Arizona as making a genuine difference in children’s readiness for school.

What have you learned?

  • We are just beginning a long and fruitful journey.

What is the biggest take away?

  • The power of data.  Numbers, accompanied by stories are compelling.

  • The opportunity to learn from larger efforts and connect to them.

Please look to the PDF for the individual experiences of Arizona communities.

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  • Thanks, Betsy! UWNA and the Read On Flagstaff (ROF) project appreciate having the opportunity to learn from others' stories while sharing our own. FYI, UWNA serves northern Arizona and the ROF project serves Flagstaff, a major city in northern Arizona.  We are a partner in the Read On Arizona statewide effort to address school readiness and increase 3rd grade ready proficiency to improve the trajectories of children's lives.

  • Nice work Arizona! Thanks for sharing your accomplishments - and challenges! Look forward to learning more about your statewide approach, KinderCamp and in-home family literacy coaches!

    Feel free to share any other information with me - I'm the new online community manager (and a frequent visitor to Tucson, where my father lives during the Michigan winters).

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