September 2017 N..

What’s Happening

Dear Grade Level Reading Coalition:

I hope everyone is having a great start to the 2017-2018 school year. As many of you know, Baltimore City Public Schools released a blueprint sharing how they will move toward their “goal of building a generation of young people with the skills, knowledge and understanding to succeed in college, careers and community.” The plan names literacy as one of its focus areas, calling out literacy as “the foundation for all learning and the key to opportunity.”  You can read the full blueprint, that also names student wholeness and staff leadership as key focus areas, here.

GLR continues to work in partnership with City Schools, and has placed particular focus on the critical months between the end of kindergarten and the beginning of second grade. We know that first grade is a crucial year for building literacy skills as students are expected to cover a tremendous amount compared to other early grades. However, many students get off track in first grade and are unable to catch back up in subsequent years. In the coming months, GLR will continue to deepen our partnership with the district to collaborate on efforts impacting first grade students. I am excited to see how Grade Level Reading can support in this work. Stay tuned!

Please save the date for the upcoming Grade Level Reading Coalition Meeting on Wednesday, October 18th from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at the Family League of Baltimore. I look forward to sharing where GLR is headed and to seeing you all there.

If you have questions or feedback in the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out.

In Partnership,
Angelique Jessup
Program Director
Baltimore Campaign for Grade Level Reading

Watch Our New Little Free Library Video–Celebrating 60,000 Books Distributed

We are thrilled to share that GLR’s Little Free Libraries have distributed over 60,000 books in a little over one year to families in Baltimore–around 42,000 of those books have come from the Maryland Book Bank.

In celebration, we are releasing this new video that tells the story of GLR’s Little Free Libraries in Baltimore. Watch it here.

A huge thank you to all the Little Free Library leaders who have made this possible. GLR’s Little Free Libraries would not be possible without your hard work and tireless dedication!

Thanks to The T. Rowe Price Foundation and the David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation for their support of this project.

T. Rowe Price Back to School Book Drive

Thank you very much to the staff of T. Rowe Price, who collected over 1600 new and gently used books (that’s 20 large boxes) to be distributed to children in Baltimore through GLR’s Little Free Libraries. T. Rowe Price Associates ordered books from an Amazon Wish List curated by the Enoch Pratt Free Library (books on this list were chosen to reflect the diversity of our city) and also donated books through a drive at their offices. We are so excited to get these books out to the community.

Summer Reading Results

School’s back in session and that means it’s time to celebrate all the great learning that happened over the summer. This year, the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Summer Challenge took a different approach—asking students to complete different learning activities, not just reading each day, to keep kids learning all summer long. Overall:

  • 7,292 children registered for the Summer Challenge at Enoch Pratt branches or through outreach;
  • All together, they completed 87,190 days of reading and learning activities;
  • On average, individual children who completed the program counted 47.6 days of learning activities each. The goal was 36 days;
  • 39.5% of individual (not group or outreach) child participants reached the 36-day goal. This is an increase of 2.5 percentage points over last year (37%).

This year, Grade Level Reading and the Enoch Pratt Free Library are going to celebrate the branch that showed the biggest increase in activity days recorded. We are excited to announce that the Clifton Branch has won—with a 31% increase in sign-ups (from 73 to 96) and over 200% increase in days logged (from 717 to 2445). We will be rewarding the staff for all their hard work to make this happen with a catered lunch in the next couple of weeks.

Grade Level Reading, the Enoch Pratt Free Library and Baltimore City Public Schools will also partner to once again reward the top 2 schools that increased their days logged the most from last year. The top school will receive $1,000 for literacy resources and the 2nd place winner will receive $500. Stay tuned for those winners in our next newsletter.

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

  • The Kirwan Commission will be holding a public hearing at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (1400 W. Cold Spring Lane) on October 12th at 6:30pm. More information can be found here.
  • Reading Partners is now recruiting volunteers for the ’17 – ’18 school year. Spend one hour a week tutoring a child in reading. More information here.
  • The Maryland Book Bank is looking for volunteers to support at the Baltimore Book Festival September 22nd- 24th. Sign up here.
  • Maryland Out of School Time Network is accepting proposals for workshops for their 2018 MOST Statewide Conference: Opening Doors, Transforming Lives. Deadline for proposals is Friday, September 22nd. Find out more here.
  • Lights on Afterschool is scheduled for October 26th. This event celebrates the importance of afterschool programs and their role in keeping kids safe, inspiring learning and helping working families. Planning an event to celebrate, register here.
  • Check out this video about the role of the Summer Funding Collaborative in Baltimore and how they impacted summer in Baltimore this year.
  • Baltimore Magazine released a feature on Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Santelises and her vision for Baltimore City Public Schools. Read it here.