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Early literacy is a key predictor of grade-level reading and school success. Too often, however, young children do not have equitable access to literacy-rich environments that foster the skills needed to attain reading proficiency by the end of third grade. While high-quality preschool and early elementary programs are necessary early literacy supports for children, most young children in the United States only spend about 20% of their waking hours in formal classroom settings. This leaves enormous opportunity to create literacy-rich environments across the many places where children and families spend time—museums, libraries, parks, and playgrounds outside of formal learning settings.
“Transforming Community Spaces into Opportunities for Playful Learning: Measuring Progress and Success” evaluates the impact of playful, literacy-rich environments and identifies how they support early literacy. In Winter 2021, The Forum for Youth Investment conducted a review of the William Penn Foundation’s Literacy-Rich Environments portfolio evaluations. In addition to a thorough document review, the Forum facilitated a two-day convening of 32 individuals representing evaluators, program grantees, and other key stakeholders that are engaged with the Literacy-Rich Environments portfolio. This brief summarizes some of the key evaluation findings and draws on key insights shared by the many stakeholders who attended the convenings.