This spring, the Foundation started “Giving Together,” a new program aimed to increase impact by pooling our resources to support organizations making a difference in the community. Through this new program, we brought donors the opportunity to co-invest with the Foundation and other fundholders, in nine of our past Youth Literacy Community Program Partners.

We are proud to announce that in just a few short months, a combined $40,000 was contributed from our generous donor-advised fundholders! With the Foundation’s additional investment, Giving Together will provide a total of $85,000 to our past youth literacy partners. These nine partners were selected by local experts in education through a competitive process. Organizations have demonstrated success at increasing grade-level reading for our community’s most vulnerable youth. As partners they have built their capacity and increased the efficiency in their operations.

Thank you to our fundholders for their generous support!

This Giving Together Opportunity is now closed, stay tuned for the next opportunity, coming soon. 

Giving Together Partners

Book HarvestBook Harvest

About: Book Harvest provides books to Triangle children and families who need them. Books are a vital tool to help all children succeed in school and in life: growing up in homes that are rich with books helps children start kindergarten ready to learn, combat summer learning loss once in school, and fall in love with reading. Since 2011, children have harvested 360,000 books from Book Harvest’s programs — books they take home to keep for their very own, forever.

Book Harvest engages the entire community in this work: hundreds of volunteers run book drives in schools, workplaces, congregations, and civic organizations. The organization then partners with an extensive network of book distribution partners — including schools, health clinics, social service agencies, and parents themselves — to provide these books to children and families who need them. A grant of $10,000 would enable 400 children to build home libraries.

Since 2011, children have harvested 360,000 books from Book Harvest’s programs — books they take home to keep for their very own, forever.

In Their Words: Book Harvest participant Marie, with the support of her mother Eleanor and her home visitor Meytal from Book Harvest’s Book Babies program, has a home library of 20 books and counting – and she is only 9 months old!  Marie and her mom take books everywhere they go: when Marie is in the car she plays with books; if they are waiting in a doctor’s office she looks at books; and at home she crawls to her book bin and takes out books to share with Mom. Every six months, Meytal visits Marie at home. She arrives bearing a basket brimming with 10 new, age-appropriate board books and with resources to help Eleanor support her daughter’s literacy development.  Eleanor says, “I’m a firm believer in education, I am the first member of my family to graduate from college, and Book Babies has taught me that this path starts at birth.”

Foundation Staff Endorsement: Book Harvest has seen rapid growth since the organization was founded in 2011. Book Harvest has developed a collaborative network of more than 50 partner organizations that work to deliver books and literacy support to children and families. The Foundation provided support to Book Harvest to enhance their development toolkit. The organization was thoughtful about examining funding streams for diversification and developed an action plan to implement needed changes.

Twitter: Book_Harvest | Facebook: bookharvestnc


CIS WakeCommunities In Schools of Wake County

About: Communities In Schools of Wake County has partnered with the Wake County Public Schools System for more than two decades to serve students.They assess student math and reading levels in order to develop individualized lesson plans based on grade level benchmarks and SMART growth goals.  Through their programs, students receive homework help and skill tutorials while working with certified teachers.  Their goal is to have at least 80% of our students improve their reading level or maintain their level if already proficient.

Their vision is to help schools remove the barriers that put students at risk of wasting their potential. Their mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. With a $10,000 grant, CIS can provide additional assistance so students can enroll in the SMART Academy during expanded learning hours, after school, weekends, track-out camp or summers.

In Their Words: Throughout elementary school, Jose consistently scored below grade level in reading.  As a result, he became disenchanted with reading and would avoid reading as much as possible. As Jose’s participation became more consistent in the community based after school site, his literacy skills improved. The staff created an individualized plan that included reading daily reading comprehension passages and interactive assignments online. The staff also worked with his parents and agreed that Jose would read for thirty minutes each night with a parent. Jose also started attending the SMART Weekend program for additional support. Now, as a sixth-grader, he has maintained a B average in English for the first semester. More importantly, he asks for his daily reading comprehension passages!

Foundation Staff Endorsement: Communities In Schools of Wake County has developed a system using real-time data to inform strategies used by “Graduation Coaches” in a timely basis.  This data allows staff to identify trends that may require additional resources and allow the organization to be responsive to the needs of students and families more immediately.  


Hill CenterThe Hill Center

About: Over nearly 40 years, Hill has developed a highly effective methodology that improves literacy skills for K-12 students with learning differences and attention issues, as well as other struggling students, including English language learners. The Hill Center’s best practices teacher training program makes this methodology available to public and private school educators so they can meet the needs of students in their own classrooms. Trained teachers or tutors are currently implementing Hill’s literacy program in schools in every Triangle county.

Hill is working to expand and strengthen these school and district partnerships in order to improve literacy among students who are struggling to read on grade level. With this new grant, Hill will provide high-impact literacy professional development for 33 teachers from Triangle public schools. If each Hill-trained educator reaches an average of 25 students per year, this translates into 825 students receiving enhanced foundational literacy instruction.

In Their Words: When a student starts to struggle in school, families and educators often don’t know where to turn. When given access to personalized, structured instruction such as Hill provides, the experience can change the trajectory of their lives. Students who are reached by Hill or Hill trained-teachers grow in academic achievement and self-confidence. Many of them say – some for the first time – “I can learn!” The Hill Center believes that every child can learn, and serves as a powerful resource for information, support, and training in reaching students who learn differently. In addition to directly serving struggling students, Hill is committed to ensuring that all educators have the training they need to support each student’s learning. Empowering teachers empowers students. Educators across the Triangle who participate in Hill workshops and certification programs report that they “truly have been given the tools to help students turn their struggles into victories.”

Foundation Staff Endorsement: The Hill Center has programs that are built upon research, individualized instruction, and successful teaching techniques, with the goal of helping students reach their full potential.  Support from Triangle Community Foundation helped to create an “All Hill vision.” This vision has aided in developing new partnerships and preparing the organization for strategic growth.

Twitter: hillcenter | Facebook: DurhamHillCenter


Kiarra KidznotesKidznotes

About: Kidznotes’ mission is to change the life trajectory of under-served and impoverished k-12 students through orchestral training. They strive to bridge the achievement gap that plagues young children from low-income families and are focused on bringing 100% of their students up to and above standards of literacy. Their work is set apart by their dedication to immersive, prolonged orchestral and choral training that begins in childhood and continues into young adulthood. This approach is thoroughly rooted in extensive research on the social and academic benefits of music education on children and youth. Recent studies have demonstrated how musical training can harness the brain’s natural plasticity to help students become better overall students and readers (Frontiers in Psychology and Cognitive Science, 2014). A grant of $10,000 would be a catalytic source of funding as they expand in the next year to a total of 500 students in their pipeline of support.

In Their Words: Diana arrived at the Holton Career and Resource Center for Kidznotes rehearsal as she normally did, though on this particular day she had extra pep in her step as she was practically bursting with confidence and excitement. She had just received her report card at school, and couldn’t wait to show all of her Kidznotes teachers. She was excelling in all subjects, including her English/Reading class. Like many students at Kidznotes, Diana comes from a primarily Spanish-speaking household, and has had to work extra hard to meet and exceed academic requirements for reading and writing in English. Her pride that day at the Holton Center was infectious and inspired teachers, staff, and students alike to continue to strive for excellence in everything that they do.

Staff Endorsement: Kidznotes is dedicated using data to look critically at programming to determine the best ways to engage students and families.  With support from Triangle Community Foundation Kidznotes developed a new logic model, a revised and simplified parent survey tool, and streamlined methods of collecting and understanding data as it relates to the program’s impact on k-3 youth literacy.  Kidznotes is better equipped to translate evaluation data into programming and organizational improvements that will help to maximize impact.

Twitter: kidz_notes | Facebook: kidznotes


LTliteracypictureLearning Together

About: Learning Together’s mission is to meet the developmental, educational, and health needs of young children of all abilities. Early literacy efforts focus on teaching diction and print awareness.  Young children must first learn that the written language carries meaning as literacy learning builds upon this understanding.  Teachers teach children how to read books, draw attention to words and letters while reading, label objects in classrooms, and encourage children to play with the printed word.

Learning Together uses Letterland, a phonics-based approach to reading, writing, and spelling used by Wake County Public Schools in kindergarten. This increases the readiness of Learning Together students for kindergarten, which is especially important for children with disabilities. $10,000 would offset the costs of books, educational materials, and assessment tools for Learning Together classrooms. Funds would also be used to strengthen literacy skills for children in our summer program to prevent regression during the summer months.

In Their Words: Qamar was born at 26 weeks, weighing approximately two pounds. Qamar started in Learning Together’s Developmental Day Center program at the age of 2 with significant delays in all areas of development.  He could not sit to hear a story from start to finish. Thanks to the dedication of highly-qualified teachers, Qamar made tremendous progress during his time at Learning Together.   By the time he transitioned to kindergarten, Qamar could sit through a circle time activity and answer questions appropriately.  He was writing his name and could answer questions related to stories that had been read.

Qamar is now in a regular kindergarten classroom with typical peers and is continuing to make progress.  According to his mother, he is “doing wonderful and loving school.” Qamar’s story illustrates the value of Learning Together’s work in youth literacy.  A $10,000 grant would help more children, like Qamar, reach their full potential.

Foundation Staff Endorsement: Learning Together serves children at their early stage in life when the brain is developing at a rapid speed. Triangle Community Foundation was pleased to support Learning Together as they developed a business plan that is cohesive, objective, balanced and realistic with supporting tools for governance and succession planning.

Twitter: Learning2Gthr | Facebook: LearningTogetherNC


Marbles TCF Partner Profile PhotoMarbles Kids Museum

About: Marbles inspires imagination, discovery and learning through extraordinary adventures in play. With funding from the Foundation,they created OPT-IN, a video training series to teach Marbles staff how to foster literacy through play. OPT-IN strategies of Observe, Participate, Talk, Inspire and Naturally-Exit allow team members to infuse rich vocabulary into play interactions and ask open-ended questions that build literacy skills. Evaluation shows literacy interactions between team members and visitors have increased substantially, and their team is eager for additional videos, which further grants would allow.

Marbles has shared OPT-IN videos with early childhood educators, museum professionals, our Educator Advisory Council, and with parents, and they have expressed interest in OPT-IN for their own staff development. Marbles currently does not have the capacity to share our in-house videos with outside audiences.  A grant of $10,000 would enable Marbles to invest in resources needed to expand their training library and produce higher quality videos.

In Their Words: Team Marbles member Billie (observed) a girl sitting alone and asked if she could sit with her and play (participate).  The girl gave a nod and retreated behind her stuffed animal.  Billie began to (talk) about what they could build, choosing words carefully.  “I have four squares, and I want to create the bottom of a tower,” she said.  “I wonder how I can connect them?” Billie then moved two squares together to show they were magnetic (inspire).  After some silence, the girl exclaimed, “I want to make a tower, too!”  They worked together, narrating their play in detail with descriptive words. The girl moved on to another activity, communicating and playing with other children. Billie then shifted her focus to another child (Naturally-Exit). OPT-IN training gave Billie a framework to engage fully in literacy-building play with a shy child she previously would have been less confident approaching.

Foundation Staff Endorsement: Marbles Kids Museum is the committed to creating purposeful and impactful interactions with museum guests, resulting in an enhanced community experience and increased early literacy skills for young learners. With Capacity Building funds provided by Triangle Community Foundation Marbles created early literacy training videos and materials for ongoing use in staff training. These creative videos demonstrate how staff can make each guest interaction as impactful as possible in fostering literacy.

Twitter: marblesraleigh | Facebook: Marbles Kids Museum


Read and FeedRead and Feed

About: Read and Feed uses mobile classrooms to travel to low-income neighborhoods and provides nutritious meals to eliminate hunger, tutors to help children read, and books to build home libraries.  They would use the funds to support our program which includes purchasing meals, curriculum materials, books, book bags complete with school supplies and incentives for reading and writing.  This year they will serve 650 elementary school children.  Read and Feed partners with local schools who identify the children and the neighborhoods. They know from a teacher survey that 88% of the children participating in Read and Feed have increased reading skills and confidence. The funds would also be used to purchase fuel and maintain our three mobile classrooms which travel approximately 350 miles weekly.

In Their Words: Last year Catalina spent most of the year socializing. She barely read at all and made no particular effort to improve. She liked chatting, but payed little attention to the book or other exercises. When others were reading she was looking out the window or at the other children on the bus. When it came her turn to read we had to tell her what page we were on. She needed help with most of the words beyond the sight words. She had, to put it bluntly, given up. Last spring, right before the end, she managed to read an entire paragraph without help. She seemed to be pleased and for the first time we saw effort on her part. This fall she was working 1:1 with a tutor and is reading with strength and confidence. She was needing help with very few of the words and was enjoying herself.

Foundation Staff Endorsement: Read and Feed has developed a unique way to serve the community by brining books, tutors, and food to low-income children via a classroom on wheels.  With support from Triangle Community Foundation, Read and Feed further developed their relationships with partner schools and implemented strategies to improve volunteer retention.

Twitter: Read_and_Feed | Facebook: ReadAndFeedNC


WakeED PartnershipWakeEd Partnership

About: The mission of WakeEd Partnership is to engage, inform, and mobilize the business community and community at large in collaboration with the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) providing every student with excellent educational opportunities, highly effective teachers, and strong leaders. Specifically in the area of Youth Literacy, they have engaged and mobilized the community by launching the Partners Read program, which brings volunteers into elementary classrooms to read once a week for 30 minutes with a student for 10 weeks. The student keeps the books he/she completes during this 10 weeks as part of their personal library. Additionally, they have a leadership and collaborative role with the county-wide annual WakeUp and Read book drive, which this year has set a goal of collecting 100,000 new/gently-used books for distribution to the district-identified highest need schools for students to have as part of an at-home library.

In Their Words: WakeEd’s impact is evident in the true story of a first grader whom we’ll call “Jeff” for privacy concerns. WakeEd’s Partner’s Read program paired Jeff with a volunteer who read with him for 15 minutes every Friday for one semester. Jeff received 10 books for his home library through the program. WakeEd also understands parents are the first teacher. At night, Jeff would read with his father. With the support of his parents, teachers, volunteers and WakeEd, Jeff grew by more than five reading levels in one semester. WakeEd’s community engagement programs provide literacy resources and support in homes of families with children attending WCPSS preschools. As a Wake Up and Read leadership team member, WakeEd helps collect, sort, and distribute thousands of books to Wake County children like Jeff. WakeEd addresses Campaign for Grade Level Reading pillars, including school readiness, summer learning loss, and school attendance.

Foundation Staff Endorsement: WakeEd Partnership plays an important role as the connector of business and community resources with schools in Wake County.  Capacity Building support from Triangle Community Foundation helped Wake Ed Partnership develop a comprehensive communication plan to engage new audiences and increase relevancy in a changing community.


YMCA2014_YLearningYMCA of the Triangle

About: The YMCA’s mission: To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.  The YMCA’s afterschool tutorial programs, Y Learning (school-based) and Community Hope (neighborhood-based) serve 1,700+ children this year providing academic support Monday-Thursday for 90 minutes/30 weeks. Camp High Hopes (CHH) maintains these connections during the summer; 88% of CHH campers are also Y Learning/Community Hope participants. Uniquely, CHH campers participate in literacy/math activities daily to help reduce summer learning loss.

With an additional $10,000, they would continue improving Camp High Hopes educational programming.  In 2015, Triangle Community Foundation provided funding for a certified teacher to deliver educational programming at all CHH sites.  This summer, they will continue having a certified teacher, but with this award, they will also staff a lead teacher overseeing all the sites and developing STEM activities, project-based learning curricula, and literacy tools.  Remaining resources will be used to purchase technology (iPads, laptops) for use throughout the year at Y Learning, Community Hope, and Camp High Hopes.

In Their Words: Leo Espinosa’s family moved to America from Mexico when he was five. Starting kindergarten was tough since he couldn’t speak English. His parents couldn’t speak English either which made it difficult to help with homework. Thanks to interested teachers, Y Learning, and Camp High Hopes, Leo started to thrive in school and at the Y. Today, thirteen years later, Leo is a high school honor student and a YMCA employee! Now, Leo works at Y Learning and Camp High Hopes leading other young children and is looking to enroll in college in fall 2016.

Children enrolled in Y afterschool tutorial programs significantly outperform children of similar demographics who are not enrolled. For the 2013-2014 school year, their passing rate on end-of-grade math tests is 44% higher and 33% higher on reading tests. Watch their video here.

Foundation Staff Endorsement: YMCA of the Triangle Area’s Camp High Hopes plays an important role in reducing summer learning loss for children in the region from financially disadvantages homes.  With Triangle Community Foundation’s support the YMCA undertook a comprehensive evaluation of programming at all six Camp High Hopes locations and worked to streamline educational initiatives to allow for consistent program execution and evaluation.  By addressing program quality and delivery the YMCA was able to provide opportunities for students to grown, learn and thrive through the summer.

Twitter: YMCATriangle | Facebook: YMCATriangle

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