Texas has a big problem and it way more than dictating the kind of books children read in school libraries. It is literacy.

Word in Black is a re-imagining of the Black Press, a journey initially begun by 10 publishers of independently owned Black media companies. Articles, like this one, found under this banner for the next six months are companion pieces to those of fellow publishers and will soon be located on the new website, WordinBlack.com. This project is underwritten by the Fund for Black Journalism. The Black Press is alive and thriving. Spread the word!

Literacy Now, a local non-profit organization dedicated transforming communities by empowering children and families through literacy, leadership, and life skills, noticed a problem. 60% of Houston children enter kindergarten lacking requisite reading skills each year and 63% of Houston 3rd graders don’t read a grade level.

The organization decided to host its 8th annual Literacy Now Guild Luncheon titled, Bee Inspired in April at the Junior League of Houston raising a record-breaking $135,000 to help struggling young readers throughout the Houston area.

COVID-19 exacerbated the issue of the staggering learning loss, poor state test scores, and the daunting task for local school officials to find quality tutors or time within the school period to provide the extra help necessary for struggling students.

The mission of the Literacy Now Guild Luncheon id to assist with program activities and events, help raise program funds and empower students to read at grade level by the end of third grade.

“It was truly heartwarming to see such an amazing group of people supporting our organization and the children we serve,” said Jacque Daughtry, executive director of Literacy Now at the ceremony. “We are extremely grateful to our guests, our Guild ladies, event donors, sponsors, and advertisers, for making this event a success.”

When talking about third-grade level when discussing literacy, it is usually the grade level when children transition from learning to read to reading to learn. The skills learned in third-grade lay the foundation for critical thinking and understand complex ideas and concepts.

In March, Literacy Now coordinated hundreds of education and community leaders, and athletes to read to 14,000 students at Houston ISD and Aldine ISD for its :Houston Reads Day” address literacy issues and partner with districts for group reading intervention in schools.  

Last year, the organization launched an aggressive expansion campaign to serve more struggling readers. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Literacy Now exceeded last year’s goals by increasing the number of students served in its Reading Intervention program by 20 percent, serving 608 struggling K-2nd grade readers in HISD.

[Insert video online]


Stats from: Houston’s Literacy Crisis: A Blue Print for Community Action

-600,000 school aged children in Houston

73% of the nearly half-million school aged children in Houston are economically disadvantaged.

– 60% of Houston-Area Kindergarteners entered school without the requisite reading-readiness skills