neighborhood to national

Paving the way to economic mobility




Letter from

President & CEO and Board Chair

Every young person should have the opportunity to thrive, regardless of race, ethnicity, zip code or circumstance. This year, StriveTogether embarks on a journey toward a bold new vision: to put 4 million more young people on a path to economic mobility by 2030.

We know it’s possible because Cradle to Career Network members are already transforming systems, expanding opportunities and getting better, more equitable results. Together, we’re making local success stories a national reality. With data, collaboration and community wisdom leading the way, we explore what’s working and learn from our wins. We’re expanding and aligning this work across regions, states and the country.

From neighborhood to national, the movement is growing. Thank you for being a part of it and helping us build a future where every child has every chance to succeed.

In partnership,

Jennifer Blatz, President & CEO, StriveTogether

Russell W. Booker, Ph.D., Board Chair, StriveTogether


Network by the Numbers

Civic Infrastructure Assessment data

The following data is shared by the Cradle to Career Network during the annual Civic Infrastructure Assessment, which measures progress along the StriveTogether Theory of Action™. Network members use data to inform decisions, refine strategies, target resources and track progress.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to present challenges in data collection and analysis, including missing data and lags in reporting.

What is the Cradle to Career Network?
Youth of Color Represented by the Network
What resources are needed to do this work?
Median Staff Size by Gateway
Staff Representation to Youth Population
Network Staff by Race
Collective Network Total Revenue
How does civic infrastructure improve outcomes?
Network members seeing outcome improvement for youth of color and youth experiencing poverty.

Improving early outcomes for

Increased Economic Mobility

Across the country, Cradle to Career Network members are making strides toward better and more equitable outcomes in early grade reading to unlock future success.


Why is early literacy important?

National statistics reveal that 32% of fourth graders score proficiently in grade-level reading. Disparities persist, with Black and Latine students, along with those experiencing poverty, exhibiting lower rates of reading proficiency compared to their white counterparts. Early grade reading is crucial for academic and future success, with studies showing that students who read at or above grade level by third grade are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college and ultimately achieve economic mobility. The Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that the average annual income of adults proficient in literacy is nearly $63,000, significantly higher than the average of almost $48,000 earned by adults who score just below proficiency.

Cradle to Career Network members lead work in their communities to improve early grade reading proficiency for all students, including addressing key indicators of progress. These include the accessibility of tutoring and high-quality learning materials in multiple languages, as well as eliminating barriers to parent engagement in their child’s education. Early grade reading is one of the seven key outcomes areas addressed by the Network — all critical steps on the path to economic mobility.

Outcomes map of the United Stated with case studies for early grade reading outcomes.

Bridgeport Prospers is leveraging technology to reach their goal of all children attending school in Bridgeport reading on grade level. The Sparkler App Mobile Technology campaign emphasizes the importance of Developmental and Behavioral Health Screening in early childhood education settings, promoting early identification and intervention to improve reading proficiency. Additionally, the implementation of the Lexia online reading program — with support from the United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut and in partnership with Bridgeport Public Schools — has yielded positive results, showing that 72% of students are meeting recommended usage time. Additionally, 83% of the students in kindergarten and 56% of first grade students are accessing Lexia content on or above grade level, indicating tangible progress in early grade reading proficiency.

Bright Futures Education Partnership’s multifaceted approach is driving positive change and improving early literacy outcomes in their community. Their Equity Data Talks have engaged diverse stakeholders, including community organizations, educators and parents, fostering discussions on equity issues in early literacy and many other areas of education. By presenting data insights in English and Spanish with accessible infographics, they’ve spurred actionable responses and requests for further analyses at various levels, enhancing community agency. Additionally, their data support for the Monterey Institute for English Learners (MIEL) has enhanced understanding of systemic linguistic equity issues, leading to improved support for English learners and Mexican Indigenous students. Data-driven insights and efforts led by MIEL helped to spur an anticipated commitment of several hundred thousand dollars to support teachers in obtaining BCLAD certifications, supporting expanded future capacity to offer more dual language programs — programs which consistently lead to greater literacy performance in both English and Spanish. Finally, through ongoing partnerships with the Monterey County Office of Education, their community continues to expand extensive early language and literacy training for teachers in grades K-8. Their collaborative fund-seeking efforts led to a $1.5 million donation that will enable the expansion of teacher training to combat post-COVID-19 declines.

To counter financial barriers to private tutoring, Building Our Future targeted evidence-based reading interventions to those most in need, effectively bridging a crucial equity gap. The partnership used third grade reading proficiency, as measured by the Wisconsin Forward exam, to help identify elementary schools in Kenosha County with the highest percentage of students performing below proficiency. Additionally, the percentage of economically disadvantaged students at the schools they identified is above 92%, nearly 60% higher than the district average. They collaborated with the Wisconsin Reading Corps to bring reading intervention support to these students, and their work has yielded tangible results. Over 176 students are receiving tutoring support, 73% of whom are exceeding growth targets, benefiting from an average of 62.5 minutes of tutoring weekly. Building Our Future has played a pivotal role in understanding the impact of the program, ultimately championing its expansion to three additional schools in the 2022-2023 academic year and connecting vital resources with schools in need.

Cradle to Career Partnership collaborated closely with school districts to implement data-driven strategies, engaging educators in monthly meetings focused on continuous improvement using student-level assessments. By visualizing data in actionable ways and fostering a data culture among teachers, they’ve effectively identified and supported students needing additional assistance. Scaling these initiatives across districts has had a significant impact, benefiting thousands of students and teachers. Encouragingly, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, there has been a noteworthy increase in third grade reading proficiency rates, with scores in Pima County rising from 34% in 2021 to 40% in 2023. Moreover, all racial and ethnic groups have seen improvements, underscoring the effectiveness of their efforts in improving early literacy outcomes across diverse student populations. The success of these effort has driven the school district to scale the work — this year, 68 educators are working with Cradle to Career Partnership to improve reading for 936 students in kindergarten to fourth grade. Additionally, 202 teachers are receiving data support from the partnership to improve reading for more than 3,500 students in kindergarten to third grade.

Delta Health Alliance’s third Promise Community, the Leflore Promise Community, is advancing early reading outcomes by using data from the STAR Early Literacy exam to identify students at risk of not passing Mississippi’s third grade reading assessment. The program emphasizes personalized support, with Literacy Fellows providing one-on-one remediation tailored to individual student needs. They also coordinate with district teachers to reinforce curriculum coverage. Engaging parents and families through the Parent Teacher Association fosters community involvement, while the inclusion of community members in leadership ensures holistic support. This approach has yielded promising results, as students who received Literacy Fellows services are 2.5 times more likely to score within the “acceptable” range of the assessment.

El Monte Promise Foundation Partnership has exceeded state averages for English learners in third grade reading proficiency by 3%, employing innovative community literacy engagement programs such as “storybook walks” and “Snuggle Up and Read” campaigns. Recognizing the predominantly English language learner demographic they serve, the foundation has implemented a robust language development program. When data revealed that Reclassified Fluent English Proficient learners in the area were outperforming native English speakers in reading, the partnership pivoted to provide targeted language support for every student to ensure they are proficient readers by third grade and prepared for a college-ready curriculum in high school. The partnership actively involves parents in decision-making processes through a Parent Advisory Committee and superintendent advisory groups, while also fostering community literacy engagement through initiatives like Free Little Libraries and library card enrollment outreach.

Northfield Promise has seen notable progress in advancing early reading outcomes, with third grade reading proficiency rising to 68%, up from 59% the previous year, defying statewide declines. Particularly encouraging is the continued improvement for English language learner, Hispanic and free or reduced lunch-eligible student demographics, indicating a positive trend despite challenges posed by the pandemic. Northfield Promise emphasizes family engagement, collaborating with families to develop tailored learning plans. The partnership empowers Family Engagement Navigators, including parents of color, to support students and address concerns. Additionally, investments in teacher training programs like LETRS aim to enhance literacy instruction, ensuring culturally responsive approaches for diverse learners and contributing to sustained improvements in reading proficiency.

Spartanburg Academic Movement’s (SAM) set an ambitious goal to improve third grade reading proficiency in four schools experiencing high levels of poverty from a collective 15% proficiency rate in 2016 to 30% by 2021. The team’s implementation of continuous improvement methodologies led to progress by October 2019, with an increasing number of students meeting or exceeding proficiency levels. Despite pandemic setbacks, the four schools surpassed their target, achieving a 32% reading proficiency rate by 2022. Disparities were notably reduced for students experiencing poverty. Significant improvements were seen at Cleveland Academy of Leadership, previously labeled low-performing, and Jesse Bobo Elementary, where personalized instruction plans driven by data analysis contributed to positive outcomes. Building on these achievements, SAM’s pilot program is expanding to include 10 high-poverty schools, with funding support and ongoing coaching to sustain and amplify these gains.

Additional Resources

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