In keeping with the company’s core value to Make it Better, we sought to enhance our flagship philanthropic program starting in 2022. In preparation for this year’s program launch, we approached our Advisory Council and tasked them with identifying a singular area of focus for a multi-year commitment.
Under the guidance of this group, early literacy was selected as the first multi-year impact area for the Get Comfortable campaign in Athens, targeting gains in 3rd grade reading proficiency in particular. The aim is to increase the number of third graders reading on level from 20% to 60% within the Clarke County School District by 2027.
Between now and May 2023, 3 intervention efforts to improve reading proficiency will be directed to the neighborhoods feeding into H.B. Stroud Elementary—with the aim of achieving a proof of concept that we’ll subsequently roll out community-wide:
“Literacy is more than just an educational issue,” said Matt Stevens, Creature Comforts’ Senior Director of Strategic Impact. “Studies show that the prevalence of early literacy has either positive or negative long-term effects: contributing to increased employment and economic development on the one hand, or predictive of poverty and incarceration on the other. While Get Comfortable has historically focused its efforts on local relief programs, our Advisory Council and focus group this year encouraged us to shift our energies further upstream—to development and prevention initiatives—in the hopes that an earlier, hyper-focused intervention would produce more lasting effects.”
After consulting with the Get Comfortable Selection Committee, we’re excited to be locking arms with Books For Keeps and East Athens Development Corporation for this literacy pilot program at H.B. Stroud Elementary School.
With funds from Get Comfortable, Books For Keeps (BFP) will tackle interventions #1 and #2: the training of volunteers for 1:1 student instruction and book distribution.
Through a volunteer-led literacy program, BFK will seek to support teachers by lowering the adult-to-student ratio in the classroom during the most crucial instructional periods of the school day. As such, BFK will train volunteers on best practices and how to read with intention in one-on-one, high dosage, small group, and whole group settings.
Books For Keeps will also provide high-interest, relevant, and diverse titles to classroom libraries, as determined by students’ preferences. Additionally, in an effort to add to the value and excitement of these books, BFK plans to make portions of these libraries mobile, rotating them across grade levels at predetermined intervals. Beyond physical books, BFK will also implement the usage of raspberry pi devices for each grade level, which come pre-loaded with digital reading materials accessible by any student tech devices that have been provided by the district.
With funds from Get Comfortable, East Athens Development Corporation will focus on the 3rd invention area, which the promotion of Family Literacy.
EADC will work with a team of education specialists, interns, volunteers, teachers, and parents to create a culture of literacy within the H.B. Stroud Attendance Zone. Specifically, EADC will launch a series of workshops for caregivers that will focus on increasing student enjoyment of reading, building vocabularies, deepening thinking, and fostering confidence.