Within Future Ready Collier’s foundational goals—early childhood development, school success, and planning for postsecondary school or career—there are essential connecting themes. One of these, literacy, has gained new support in Southwest Florida with Room to Read. Room to Read is a literacy organization with global reach and impact, having helped more than 32 million children in 21 countries. As a part of their goal to benefit 40 million children by 2025, Room to Read has been implementing programming in additional communities. Through a landscape analysis, the organization identified significant need in Collier County. Immokalee, Golden Gate City, River Park/Gordon River, Goodland, and Naples Manor were each identified as book deserts, meaning fewer homes have enough books to help children prepare for early education. To uplift Collier County children, Room to Read announced it will distribute 75,000 books in August 2022 to families in underserved communities.
In yet another example of the power of collaboration, Room to Read is working hand-in-hand with established local organizations to deliver books. These include Books for Collier Kids, Child’s Path, Fun Time Early Childhood Academy, Grace Place, Guadalupe Center, Immokalee Foundation, New Horizons, Pathways Early Education Center, and The Shelter for Abused Women and Children. Room to Read has committed to distributing its 10-book Peace & Equality collection to kindergarteners and first-graders in Collier County. According to Room to Read, “The collection, aimed at children ages 3-8, centers around the goal of recognizing the work we must continue to do to create systems grounded in peace and equality.” The August delivery complements the start of the school year, and emphasizes the importance of early childhood learning and school readiness.
Improving kindergarten readiness has been one of Future Ready Collier’s core objectives since its launch. According to data tracked by Future Ready Collier for inclusion in its annual report to the community, the Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener (FLKRS) identified only 47% of incoming kindergarteners in the fall of 2021 as ready for that crucial step in their growth. The Collier County Public Schools count 87.49% of kindergarteners as registered and in attendance on the first day of the school year. While this number does steadily increase during the first month of school, there are valid concerns about children missing key opportunities for learning and social interaction in those early weeks. Putting books into the hands of children and their families contributes to more enriching learning and interactive home environments, so that literacy, school readiness, and subsequent school success become more attainable.
Future Ready Collier is fortunate to collaborate with Room to Read as well as many of its local partners, such as Books for Collier Kids, Child’s Path, Fun Time Early Childhood Academy, Grace Place, Guadalupe Center, Immokalee Foundation, New Horizons, and Pathways Early Education Center. As a collective impact network, Future Ready Collier is dedicated to convening the voices and the resources to create significant, lasting on-the-ground movement for those in need. With a specific focus on education and learning, from birth to adulthood, literacy is essential to the network’s priorities. Having Room to Read’s evolving presence and proactive engagement is an asset for the entire community. To learn more about Room to Read, visit www.roomtoread.org. To get more involved with Future Ready Collier, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Room to Read
Prepared by Caroline Ridgway of C1B1 Communications