GLR March 2017 N..

GLR March 2017 Newsletter:
Coalition Meeting, Little Free Libraries & Lots More

What’s Happening 

Dear Grade Level Reading Coalition:

I hope this newsletter finds everyone well and excited for the months ahead. Spring has arrived and summer is just around the corner!

Thanks to all that attended our March Coalition meeting. It was great to see such a large turnout and feel the energy in the room from our ever growing Coalition. Almost 50 Coalition partners, representing a diverse group of organizations in the city, gathered to learn about some of the great work going on and explore summer opportunities. Specifically, the Coalition heard from City School’s Office of Engagement about the Baltimore Learns Every Day Game, an interactive experience designed to help caregivers work with children to build literacy skills, Young Audiences on how their Summer Academy stopped summer learning loss, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library on their revamped Summer Challenge. As a bonus, a training on Kids A-Z, an online platform which gives students K-3rd grade access to over 1,000 books they can read at home, was offered following the meeting. You can see the full meeting notes here.

Please note that our next Coalition meeting will be on Thursday, June 1st from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at the Family League of Baltimore. We will use this time to delve deeper into how the Coalition can support summer learning opportunities (flyers to raise awareness of the Pratt Summer Challenge will be available). Stay tuned for an invite and more information.

Again, thank you for all that you do. Please reach out with any questions or feedback you have.

See you in June!

Angelique Jessup
Program Director
Baltimore Campaign for Grade Level Reading

What’s Going On At Our Little Free Libraries 

On February 15th, Grade Level Reading hosted a get together for Little Free Library leaders to share best practices and to learn where more support is needed.

GLR has 36 Little Free Libraries throughout Baltimore City. Little Free Libraries are free-standing structures where anyone can come at any time to take a book. GLR’s Little Free Libraries have given out approximately 20,000 books in under a year. On average, Little Free Libraries report distributing 50 books per week with some saying they give out upwards of 200. In the coming months, GLR will develop a strategy to ensure Little Free Libraries are able to stay stocked with quality books representing the diversity of our city and continue to be a place where families can get books at any time.

In addition, Grade Level Reading has released an RFP for Little Free Library community leads to apply for grants of $500- $1,000 to promote additional reading strategies in their communities. Some suggested projects included:

  • Create & Expand Relationships with Local Pratt Libraries. Grants can support a joint project with a local Pratt library to encourage users of the Little Free Library to also visit and use the resources at their local Pratt.
  • Events at Little Free Libraries. This can range from having a read thon with food and fun prizes, bringing community members together to have a picnic and read-aloud, hosting guest or celebrity readers, or encouraging local students to read together.
  • Little Free Library Community Ambassadors. Grants can be used to create a cohort of community members/organizations that will support a Little Free Library.
  • Access to Books. This can include using funds to set up partnerships with local community groups (including sororities/fraternities) or hosting a book drive to support restocking the Little Free Library. Groups can also apply to test out delivery of books. Groups who are applying to purchase new books have been given a list of recommended books from the Pratt Library.

We will continue working with these sites to increase access to books for kids in Baltimore and show how “reading is everywhere.” Grants will be awarded early April.

Read Across America Day

On Thursday, March 2nd, the Baltimore Campaign for Grade Level Reading joined Mayor Catherine Pugh and Reading Partners at Matthew A. Henson Elementary School to celebrate Read across America Day, a celebration of reading and Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Mayor Pugh and five of her staff members served as tutors to students in the Reading Partners’ program and then each student received a book from their very own GLR Little Free Library at their school.

You can see more pictures from the event here.

Summer Funding Collaborative Update

The Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative (BSFC) is a partnership between 11 funders (see list below). They aim to fund high-quality summer programs for children and youth in Baltimore City. Organizations can apply for funding from the BSFC through a common application. This year’s common application opened on January 23 and closed on February 17, 2017. They received applications from about 230 organizations and funding announcements will be made in early April.

In summer 2017, the BSFC will partner with grantees to implement a consistent data collection process across all sites. Organizations funded by the BSFC will use a standardized tool to collect and track attendance. The information collected through this standardized process will capture important data which improves measurement of summer outcomes.

Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative Members:

The Abell Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Clayton Baker Trust, Family League of Baltimore, France-Merrick Foundation, Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, Joseph & Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, Lockhart Vaughan Foundation, Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation and Under Armour

Young Audiences’ Summer Arts Academy Improves Academic Performance

Young Audiences partnered with Baltimore City Public Schools to run summer programming for almost 800 low income students from 54 schools. The program paired teachers with teaching artists to infuse arts into learning. While studies show low income students tend to lose two or more months in reading achievement, students in the Young Audiences Program “avoided summer learning loss and, in many cases, gained ground on their national peers in standardized testing.” In addition, almost 60% of students who attended 75% or more of the program “showed a positive change in their structure and content of their writing.”

This summer Young Audiences will serve four sites: Gardenville Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Elementary Middle, Coldstream Park Elementary Middle and James Mosher Elementary. Registration for this upcoming summer is now open.

Child Trends to Host Free Workshop: Becoming An Evidenced Based Program

This five-series workshop, hosted by Child Trends, on “Becoming an Evidence-Based Program” is designed for directors or senior staff of Baltimore-area non-profit organizations interested in taking important first steps in building capacity to ensure their programs improve outcomes for children and youth. The Annie E. Casey Foundation is sponsoring this workshop, which will be hosted by the Family League and run by Child Trends.

The workshops are free of charge and will be held from 9am-noon on the following Fridays: March 31, April 7, April 21, May 5 and May 19.

Find more information about the sessions and participation requirements.

Space is limited. To reserve a spot, please contact Ann Schindler at

Coalition Updates

As a way to stay connected, we include Coalition needs in our monthly newsletter. Please email Carrie Finkelstein if there is a need or announcement you would like the Coalition to know about at