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Finding Funding for Reading Instruction

Into one of the worst budget years in recent memory comes a new guide to finding federal funding for literacy programs. The Finance Project issued the 182-page whopper today. Called "Learning to Read: Guide to Federal Funding for Grade-Level Reading Proficiency," the study walks districts, states, community groups, and others through more than 100 sources of federal funding for reading programs aimed at children from birth through age 8.

The report is part of the "Campaign for Grade-Level Reading," which has brought about 70 funders together to try to focus renewed attention on the importance of getting all children reading at grade level by the time they're 9. (You might remember that The Baltimore Sun brought national attention to this issue 14 years ago with its "Reading by 9" series.)

The campaign, organized by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and others, emphasizes what the funders consider key levers in that push: a coherent early-education strategy; more attention to chronic absence from school and summer learning loss; better ways to engage parents and caregivers as early literacy forces; and an intense focus on improving low-performing schools, where many children with weak reading skills languish.

The new report arrives as the campaign funders gather here in Washington for their inaugural meeting. Top officials of the U.S. Department of Education are addressing them on early learning and the administration's "cradle to career" strategy. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is scheduled to address the group tomorrow about the administration's literacy strategy, which hasn't gotten as high a profile in its officials' rhetoric as STEM issues and college- and career-readiness.

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