Strong Start, Strong Readers

What We Fund:

Our Strong Start, Strong Readers program supports efforts to increase and improve school readiness and literacy using six strategies.

ENGAGED FAMILIES
Build opportunities for parents and caregivers to learn about the development of children age 0-8 and enact their role as first teachers.

LITERACY-RICH ENVIRONMENTS
Create opportunities for children age 0-8 to engage in literacy-building activities outside of schools and centers.

QUALITY EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION CENTERS
Improve the quality of existing early learning programs, expand quality programs, and build systems that support quality.

STRONG K-3 LITERACY INSTRUCTION
Support aligned and effective literacy practices in K-3 classrooms so that all students are on track to meet or exceed grade level proficiency by the end of third grade.

QUALIFIED EDUCATORS
Establish model programs that prepare early childhood through third grade educators to deliver high-quality instruction.

ADVOCACY & PUBLIC INFORMATION
Build an engaged statewide constituency to advocate for the development and maintenance of policies that appropriately resource schools, centers, and programs.

 

For more detailed information about the Strong Start, Strong Readers work and its objectives, visit our What We Fund page.


What We Do Not Fund:

  • Work with primary impact outside of the city of Philadelphia, unless funding also advances another area of programmatic focus for the Foundation.
  • Work that is not grounded in relevant data and supported by a strong research base.
  • Political lobbying or legislative activities.
  • Student aid or individual scholarships.
  • Health research or health education programs.

Evaluating Proposals and Grants:

ENGAGED FAMILIES:

How do we select grantees?

We select grantees based on:

  • Implementation of an evidenced-based home-visiting model.
  • Willingness to participate in shared learning and collaboration in an attempt to reach aligned sector goals.
  • Innovative approaches to help parents and caregivers enact their roles as first teachers.

How do we measure success?

Grants should improve at least one of the following outcomes:

  • Parents’ skills and behaviors related to supporting child learning and development.
  • Child development and school readiness.
  • Capacity of educators to engage families about literacy and child development.

 

LITERACY-RICH ENVIRONMENTS:

How do we select grantees?

We select grantees based on:

  • Demonstrated success in improving outcomes for low-income children and families through engaging programming.
  • Experience working collaboratively with centers, schools, teachers, and school leaders in urban settings.
  • A strategy for sustaining programming beyond the grant period.
  • Program quality (qualified facilitators, well-designed program model, appropriate spaces and materials, child engagement, etc.).
  • Degree to which programs are based on research or evidence.
  • Intentional outreach to Philadelphia’s low-income children and families.
  • Inclusion of evaluation to assess program implementation and impact.

How do we measure success?

Grants should improve at least one of the following outcomes:

  • Literacy proficiency.
  • Quality of adult-child dialogue and interactions.
  • Other important outcomes will be identified through a pilot cohort beginning work in 2017.

 

QUALITY EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION CENTERS:

How do we select grantees?

We select grantees based on:

  • Willingness to adhere to early care and education quality standards and a clear plan for sustaining a high level of service provision.
  • Commitment to and success with improving outcomes for children from low-income families.
  • Willingness and ability to share practices and materials effectively and freely, and to collaborate with other centers and directors pursuing a similar outcome.
  • Ongoing assessment of efficacy of practices and organizational impact.
  • Financial and management capacity to ensure successful implementation.

How do we measure success?

Grants should improve at least one of the following outcomes:

  • Increase the number of children from low-income families served in high-quality centers.
  • Improve quality of care in early learning settings as measured by research-based assessment.
  • Demonstrate strong child outcomes in one or more of the following areas:
    • Cognitive gains.
    • Academic gains.
    • Social and emotional skills.

 

STRONG K-3 LITERACY INSTRUCTION:

How do we select grantees?

We select grantees based on:

  • Quality of proposed professional development and learning opportunities that are focused on improving the quality of instruction and:
    • are conducted over an extended period of time.
    • involve cohorts of teachers from participating schools for shared learning, application, and refinement.
    • include active learning opportunities for participating educators and are aligned with in-class supports.
    • provide strong and specific examples of practices that can be employed in classroom practice.
    • have been prioritized and include clear commitment by school leadership.
  • Strength of existing evidence base for the proposed intervention, or ability to create new, local evidence based on promising practice.
  • Involvement and support for teachers, principals, or other school-based staff to develop, lead, or sustain instructional improvements.
  • Clear demand from the participating schools.
  • Utility of curricula or instructional resources that are designed to meet the needs of students in Philadelphia and their level of alignment to school, network, or district goals.
  • Likelihood of sustained effort beyond the grant period.

How do we measure success?

Projects should accomplish at least one of the following outcomes:

  • Improve the academic performance and literacy outcomes of students between kindergarten through the end of third grade.
  • Increase teacher knowledge and application of core elements of effective literacy instruction and interventions for struggling students.
  • Develop leadership and coaching skills among teachers.
  • Establish model schools or networks that can be utilized as learning hubs.
  • Increase alignment between early childhood and K-12 systems.

 

QUALIFIED EDUCATORS:

How do we select grantees?

We select grantees based on:

  • Demonstrated success or promising approaches in training highly effective teachers and leaders for success and persistence in under-resourced educational settings for children from birth to third grade.
  • Programmatic training and focus on service for children from low-income families.
  • A clear plan for implementation and for sustaining improvement.
  • Collaboration with others pursuing a similar outcome.
  • Ability to serve as a model for others.
  • Ongoing assessment of efficacy of practices and organizational impact.
  • Financial and management capacity to ensure successful implementation.

How do we measure success?

Projects should accomplish at least one of the following outcomes:

  • Increase the supply of teachers who can deliver high-quality instruction to young children from low-income families in Philadelphia.
  • Enhance the effectiveness of new and current teachers as measured by the performance of their students on standardized measures of academic, social, and behavioral competencies.
  • Improve the retention of highly effective teachers and child care directors.
  • Improve the leadership abilities of child care center directors as measured by improvements in overall instructional quality of the center.

 

ADVOCACY & PUBLIC INFORMATION:

How do we select grantees?

We select grantees based on:

  • Track record in successfully advocating for state policy change.
  • Ability to reach target audiences with strategic communications.
  • Collaboration with others pursuing a similar outcome.
  • Ongoing assessment of efficacy of practices and impact.
  • Incorporation and representation of Pennsylvania’s diverse communities.
  • Financial and management capacity to ensure successful implementation.

How do we measure success?

Grants seek to build an engaged statewide constituency to advocate for policies that appropriately resource schools, centers, and programs. We measure the success of such efforts by examining:

  • Faithful execution of work plans while also demonstrating ability to course-correct as needed.
  • Evidence that intended audiences are utilizing and promoting relevant research and data.
  • Quality of communications strategies, ability to frame issues for public understanding, and successful outreach to constituents.
  • Use of evaluation metrics to inform strategies and tactics.
  • Ultimately, influence on state policies that resource schools, centers, and programs.

 

High School Completion

What We Fund:

  • Efforts to facilitate successful transitions to high school
  • Specialized pathways and systems to increase rates of high school completion

What We Do Not Fund:

  • Work with primary impact outside of the city of Philadelphia, unless funding also advances another area of programmatic focus for the Foundation.
  • Work that is not grounded in relevant data and supported by a strong research base.
  • Political lobbying or legislative activities.
  • Student aid or individual scholarships.
  • Health research or health education programs.

Evaluating Proposals and Grants:

How do we select grantees?

We select grantees based on:

  • A strong evidence base to support the proposed approach.
  • Organizational track record of improving outcomes for students.
  • Collaborative approach to working with school and district staff.
  • Ability to sustain project’s impacts after the conclusion of the grant period.

How do we measure success?

Projects should demonstrate one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Increased graduation rates.
  • Improved readiness for high school.
  • Increased clarity about and preparedness for post-secondary activity.

For more detailed information about the High School Completion work and its objectives, visit our What We Fund page.

 

Civic Engagement

What We Fund:

  • Efforts that cultivate community and citywide support for public education in Philadelphia
  • Education research and sharing of locally relevant data in order to elevate critical education issues and deepen public understanding
  • Media projects or convenings that deepen public understanding of local practice, and convey stories of successes and/or challenges to the broader civic community
  • Other innovative approaches that advance the Foundation’s education priorities

What We Do Not Fund:

  • Work with primary impact outside of the city of Philadelphia, unless funding also advances another area of programmatic focus for the Foundation.
  • Work that is not grounded in relevant data and supported by a strong research base.
  • Political lobbying or legislative activities.
  • Student aid or individual scholarships.
  • Health research or health education programs.

Evaluating Proposals and Grants:

How do we select grantees?

We select grantees based on:

  • Potential for galvanizing increased support and lasting improvement in public education.
  • A clear plan for implementation and for sustaining the effort beyond the grant period.
  • Level of collaboration with other organizations or initiatives pursuing similar goals.
  • Degree to which efforts to increase civic attention to public education issues are grounded in research or evidence.
  • Attentiveness and approach to including diverse communities.

How do we measure success?

Projects should accomplish at least one of the following outcomes:

  • Institutionalize the use of research, data, and practitioner perspectives to frame, understand, and respond to critical education issues.
  • Increase citywide support and engagement in support of public education.
  • Increase retention and professional satisfaction of teachers and school leaders.

We do not fund student aid, individual scholarships, or political lobbying or legislative activities.

For more detailed information about the Civic Engagement work and its objectives, visit our What We Fund page.