Every Child Ready Duluth

The Challenge

In Duluth, we have an alarming opportunity gap: only 42% of children—less than half—arrive for the first day of kindergarten ready to learn.

Brain research has helped us understand that school readiness is more than simply knowing the academic basics. It means a child “has a willing attitude and confidence in the process of learning, a healthy state of mind.”1

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.

The gap in school readiness can lead to long-term disparities in literacy. Those who cannot read well “are paid less, are more often out of work, are less likely to vote, are less informed about civic affairs, are less able to meet the healthcare needs of their families, and are more likely to have trouble with the law or to become ensnared in other socially harmful activities.”2

The Solution

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. Led by the library, a new city-wide coalition of individuals and organizations will work together to identify the problems and develop solutions to promote school readiness.

Every Child Ready Duluth focuses on early childhood intervention to build ladders of opportunity, increasing the likelihood that all preschoolers will succeed when they enter school.

“Children with higher levels of school readiness at age five are generally more successful in grade school, are less likely to drop out of high school, and earn more as adults, even after adjusting for differences in family background.”3

Children and families will benefit, as will our entire community. Parents will be encouraged to see themselves as their children’s first and most important teachers. Preschoolers will be more ready to succeed in kindergarten, paving the way for a better experience in school; a greater likelihood of reading by third grade; and improved odds of graduating from high school.

You Can Help

The Foundation is 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 Foundation will secure private funds to support the new initiative.

We are grateful to add that every gift given for Every Child Ready Duluth will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000, by two of our philanthropic donors, Karen and Royal Alworth. We invite you to join them in supporting this invaluable endeavor for the benefit of the youngest children of Duluth.

Community Feedback

In 2015, a community-wide library survey in Duluth identified school readiness as the challenge that our community most wanted the library to address.

Play = Learning in disguise

Every Child Ready Duluth embraces the power of play. As Mr. Rogers observed, “For children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

Empowering Caregivers

No parent automatically knows how to care for children in a way that prepares them for school. Every Child Ready Duluth equips them with essential skills.

Help us create brighter futures for our children.

(1) Dan Gartrell, “Readiness: Not a State of Knowledge, but a State of Mind,” National Association for the Education of Young Children, https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/readiness-not-state-knowledge-state-mind, date accessed April 14, 2019.
(2) Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel, National Institute for Literacy, National Center for Family Literacy https://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/NELPReport09.pdf, date accessed April 21, 2019.
(3) G. J. Duncan, K. M. Ziol-Guest, & A. Kalil (2010), “Early childhood poverty and adult attainment, behavior, and health,” Child Development 81(1), pp. 306-325.

I Love My Library!

Tell me more about the life-changing work of the Duluth Public Library.