Philadelphia Has an Early Reading Problem. Here’s How the Community is Working to Fix It.


Philadelphia has a problem. Approximately two-thirds of the city’s students cannot read at grade level by 4th grade—an important indicator for future academic and professional success, and a harbinger of potential troubles ahead, like higher drop out rates, risky behavior and incarceration later in life.

But the city also has incredible people working hard to help change course and supporting its families and early learners.

Read by 4th is a citywide effort convened and managed by the Free Library of Philadelphia. With more than 90 participating organizations, public and private, big and small, the campaign aims to significantly increase the number of students in Philadelphia entering the 4th grade at reading level by 2020.

In January, Read by 4th partnered with Waterford to bring UPSTART, our at-home kindergarten readiness program, to nearly 200 preschool-age children in Philadelphia.

“One of the challenges we have here in Philadelphia is that there simply are not enough quality PreK slots for our children to access, so anytime we can find a resource that fills that gap, we’re excited to help make that happen,” Jenny Bogoni, executive director of the Read by 4th campaign, said. “What UPSTART makes possible is bringing a resource to help children get ready for kindergarten that they can access in their homes, with their families, very easily, every day.”

Watch the video to learn more about UPSTART Philadelphia and hear from three families, in their own words, how UPSTART is helping get their child ready for school.


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