WASHINGTON: Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) on June 12 launched a new literacy campaign to encourage the development of language skills among children under age 5 in African-American, Hispanic, and Native-American communities.
Outreach includes free language development materials on RIF's Web site, www.rif.org; PSAs broadcasts by Univision and Radio One encouraging parents and caregivers to spend more time reading, talking, and writing with children to better prepare them for school; literacy workshops organized in daycare and other community centers around the country; and book donations to schools in low-income areas.
Frank Walter, RIF director of marketing and PR, said research shows that children in the targeted groups on average have less-developed reading skills by fourth grade compared with Caucasian or Asian-American communities.
"We already had a robust Web site with games and activities for children age 6 and up, but this is the first time we've put together such a site for parents of toddlers, infants, and preschoolers," according to Walter, who said about half of the 4.5 million children served by RIF programs are minorities.
RIF is working with groups like the National Black Child Development Institute to identify communities and community centers appropriate for outreach.
Funding for program comes from Macy's, which so far has pledged about $300,000, along with an unspecified portion of a $1.3 million grant from the US Department of Education. Manuel Wernicky, who runs New York-based consultancy Bar Code, is assisting with some outreach.