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Barbara Bush Foundation Releases Guide to Encourage Focus on Literacy in Afterschool Programs

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Washington, D.C. – The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has released a new practice guide, Extending and Enhancing Literacy Learning in Afterschool Programs, to help afterschool providers nationwide incorporate literacy skill development into their programs.

To raise awareness of the literacy-enhancing potential of afterschool programming, the Barbara Bush Foundation shared the practice guide with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos during a briefing today. It was also shared with afterschool providers from across the country at last month’s National Afterschool Summit.

The practice guide provides detailed, evidence-based information to help afterschool providers not only understand how literacy skills develop and can best be supported through afterschool programming, but also to help them choose among the myriad of curricula options on the market. The guide’s section on evidence-based curricula evaluates 17 literacy-focused programs to help afterschool providers select the best fit for their programs based on factors including target literacy areas, staffing and training requirements, costs, and results.

“We’re really proud of the comprehensive scope of this practice guide, and we hope that it will be a real asset for afterschool providers who are looking to implement or strengthen a focus on literacy learning for their students,” said Liza McFadden, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation. “I think that the detailed comparison of curricula options—which I think of as a ‘Consumer Reports® for afterschool literacy providers’—will be a particularly helpful resource for providers.”

Ron Fairchild, senior consultant for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and Dr. Brittany Birken, CEO of the Florida Children’s Council, were among the early learning experts who reviewed and contributed to the practice guide.

“The early school years are a critical period for literacy skill development, culminating in the ‘pivot point’ around third grade when children shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Children who don’t successfully make that pivot are four times more likely to drop out of high school,” said Fairchild. “Our hope is that afterschool providers nationwide will use this guide to make literacy a focal point in their programming, which could greatly boost our efforts to ensure that all children hit the grade-level reading benchmark.”

“Literacy truly is the foundation of education, and it’s vital that we take every opportunity available to support children’s development of those skills,” said Birken. “High quality, literacy-focused afterschool and summer programs have been shown to have positive impacts on reading skills, especially among the students who are at the greatest risk for difficulties. With more than 10 million children participating in afterschool programs nationwide, program providers have the potential to make a real impact on these students’ futures by helping them solidify those foundational skills.”

The Foundation will host a series of webinars for afterschool program providers focused on use of the practice guide. The webinar series will kick off with an introductory session, “Implementing an Effective Afterschool Literacy Program,” on May 23 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Registration information can be found here.

The development of “Extending and Enhancing Literacy Learning in Afterschool Programs: A Practice Guide” was supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

For more information: Contact Lauren Sproull, Director of Communications, at 850.562.5300 or

Get in Touch

You may also contact us by phone at 850.562.5300 or by mail at:
Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
516 North Adams Street • Tallahassee, Florida 32301