Youth Literacy

Youth Literacy

Why Youth Literacy?

While North Carolina continues to see an increase in graduation rates, the need for additional support for youth and education is still great, especially in the early years. According to the National Research Council “academic success, as defined by high school graduation, can be predicted with reasonable accuracy by knowing someone’s reading skill at the end of third grade.”

20% of students (Durham), 13% of students (Chatham), 12% (Orange), 10% (Chapel Hill-Carrboro), and 14% (Wake) did not graduate high school in four years.  2014-2015

55% of third-graders (Durham), 43% (Chatham), 39% (Orange), 23% (Chapel Hill-Carrboro), and 30% (Wake) were not reading at grade level.  2014-2015

Third grade marks an important learning milestone; students learn to read until the third grade and read to learn thereafter.  Students who struggle to read at this early age tend to fall further behind their peers as time passes and are four times more likely than proficient readers to leave school without a diploma.

Statistics show that students of color and those from economically disadvantaged families more often receive below proficient scores on early grade reading tests.  Students with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency may not start kindergarten with the same readiness as their peers.  These youth may be at a disadvantage before they even step foot into school.  Investing in students at an early age, especially those who are most vulnerable may prevent future dropout and increase student success.


Triangle Community Foundation invests in the capacity of early childhood programs that incorporate components of the North Carolina Common Core curriculum and deliver high quality teaching at school, in a community setting, and/or at home.  The Foundation targets organizations with programs that help children develop proficient reading skills by the end of third grade.

Ideal programs implement evidence-based practices that

  • Target vulnerable populations, such as: youth of color, youth from low-income families, youth with disabilities, youth with limited English proficiency, and youth attending low performing schools
  • Encourage school readiness, including: language development, social-emotional skills, childhood health, and participation in high-quality early care and learning programs
  • Encourage parent involvement
  • Reduce summer learning loss
  • Decrease chronic absence
  • Priority given to collaborative proposals.

Current Partners

These partners are receiving Phase II: Capacity Building Support*

Augustine Literacy Project
Chatham County Partnership for Children and Child Care Networks, Inc.
East Durham Children’s Initiative
Helps Education Fund
Triangle Literacy Council
Boys and Girls Clubs of Wake County 
Communities In Schools of Durham
Durham’s Partnership for Children
Just Right Academy, Inc.

*as of August 2015

References – Snow, S. B. (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. National Research Council. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, Public Schools of North Carolina. (2015, September). Retrieved from Department of Public Instruction:, Fiester, L. (2013). Early Warning Confirmed A Research Update on Third-Grade Readings. Baltimore: Annie E. Casey Foundation.


The Foundation’s capacity building support will help the Y improve education programming for Camp High Hopes and help reduce summer learning loss for at-risk youth.

Karen Barlow, YMCA of the Triangle


Libby Richards

Senior Community Programs Officer
Phone 919.474.8370 ext:4014