Opportunity Gap. In Duluth, only 45% of children arrive for the first day of kindergarten prepared to learn. For children who have spent their early years being read to, drawing, talking, singing, and playing with their caregivers, school can be a positive place of learning. But for those whose opportunities for early learning and enriched play have been more limited, kindergarten can feel like a place where others succeed and they fail.
This gap in school readiness can lead to long-term disparities in literacy. Those who cannot read well are:
- Paid less
- More often out of work
- Less likely to vote
- Less informed about civic affairs
- Less able to meet the healthcare needs of their families
A 2015 community-wide survey identified school readiness as the challenge that the community most wanted the library to address. It became goal #1 in the library’s Strategic Plan 2016-2020.
Bridging the Gap. The Duluth Public Library has crafted a bold new initiative, Every Child Ready Duluth, to help bridge the gap in school readiness in Duluth so that all of our children can succeed. A new city-wide coalition of individuals and organizations, led by the library, will work together to identify the problems and develop solutions to promote school readiness.
Every Child Ready Duluth will help close the opportunity gap. It focuses on early childhood intervention to build ladders of opportunity, increasing the likelihood that all preschoolers will succeed when they enter school.
Funding. The Duluth Library Foundation is financially spearheading the initial three years of funding for Every Child Ready Duluth in collaboration with the City of Duluth. In this private/public partnership, the Duluth Library Foundation will secure private funds to support the new initiative.
Benefits. It is anticipated that families, children, and the community will experience short-term and long-term benefits:
- Strengthened understanding of parents as their children’s first and most important teachers.
- Improved readiness to learn in kindergarten and beyond
- Improved literacy and educational outcomes
- Economic benefits extending into adult life
- Increased civic engagement