a foundation for lifelong learning

Did you know that children’s brains develop faster in their first eight years than at any other point in their lives? Those years are such critical learning years – it’s when many kids are set on a path to a life of curiosity, continued learning, and success. 

For others, issues in our system block that path. For kids who don’t learn to read in those early years (specifically by third grade) their chances of dropping out of high school increase by four times. 

The Early Literacy Success Initiative

Stand for Children is working on clearing those roadblocks by championing the Early Literacy Success Initiative, which was passed by Oregon lawmakers in 2023. This marks an historic commitment in research-backed policies. School districts now have targeted, statewide resources to invest in research-backed strategies that are proven to help children learn to read.

In 2025, Stand for Children will advocate for the state to fully fund the Early Literacy Success Initiative, ensuring every Oregon student, especially those facing barriers, can read proficiently by third grade—an essential step toward equity and opportunity.

Oregon’s literacy rates were already concerning pre-pandemic and have worsened since. To address this, schools need $150 million per year to provide summer learning and tutoring support for at-risk students and professional development and coaching for educators.

See how research-based practices are already making a difference:

The impact we’re making

Stand for Children championed the Early Literacy Success Initiative and with your support, successfully advocated for its passage. Together, we sent lawmakers nearly 40,000 emails about the importance of this issue. Over 100 education supporters submitted testimony. Dozens of advocates came to in-person events to learn more and share your experiences.

We’re proud to say parents, educators, elected leaders, advocates and community driving organizations secured the successful funding of this historic investment by the state in early literacy. 

THe early literacy success initiative provides funding for:

  • 1:1 or small group tutoring
  • Summer learning opportunities
  • Coaching to keep educators up-to-date on the latest research proven teaching methods
  • Adoption of curriculum and materials aligned with the science of reading
  • Professional learning to ensure students are taught in a culturally responsive way
  • Culturally relevant instruction materials

The Early Literacy Success Initiative has the potential to change outcomes for students across the state. And the need is great; before the pandemic, only 46% of all students were reading proficiently by the end of third grade. By supporting districts to invest in research-backed strategies, we expect to see measurable improvements in the coming years. 

To receive funds, districts had to apply for this non-competitive grant. Every district in Oregon has applied and funds have now arrived in schools.

Now begins the important work of supporting educators in the classroom to ensure the policies in the bill are implemented in a way that makes a difference for students. 

As part of our effort to ensure the legislation is maximized to improve reading outcomes statewide, we’ve recently selected 13 Early Literacy Demonstration Sites from around the state. These elementary schools were selected because they are leading the way when it comes to reading, and we want to showcase what they are doing and help them learn together to maximize this new funding.