Findings and Lessons

Takeaways

January 2017

Spotlight on the United Way of Berks County

Ready. Set. READ! Literacy Campaign

A team from Reading, PA, attended our 2016 institute to work on making their community literacy initiative more effective for all children, from birth to third grade. Read more from their leader, Pat Giles, on why they attended and what they learned this past fall.

What challenges were you facing within Ready. Set. READ! (RSR) prior to the September Institute?

Giles, VP of the United Way

Pat Giles, VP of the United Way

At the time, we were four years into a 10-year campaign with a very aggressive, publicly-declared goal to reach, along with several key staff transitions taking place. It was a natural point in time to revisit what we had been doing and where we still needed to go, and then to recommit to what we needed to do to get there in the coming years. For context, we are fortunate to have incredible levels of community, corporate and school engagement and support, but that also means we have high expectations to meet!

What about the Lectio approach resonated with you, and specifically applied to your community’s work?

First and foremost, it was a relief to be able to connect with people who have such a breadth and depth of experience, knowledge and perspective: they understand the complexities that encompass community-based, long term, early literacy initiatives, and therefore understand what we are up against.

We also knew that with Lectio we would be taken through a well-designed process with specific analytical and planning tools that would help guide our planning effort, and that we could count on the Lectio staff to provide expert facilitation and consultation support. 

From left to right: Jane Moyer, Early Care and Education Program Director; Mary Jimenez, Early Childhood Program Manager; Cynthia Line, Ready. Set. READ! Director; and Jen Tinsman, Education Associate/RSR Database Administrator

From left to right: Jane Moyer, Early Care and Education Program Director; Mary Jimenez, Early Childhood Program Manager; Cynthia Line, Ready. Set. READ! Director; and Jen Tinsman, Education Associate/RSR Database Administrator

What kind of changes have you made as a result of the program analysis you and your team did?

We decided we needed to take the time to dig deep and create a wider learning community of staff and volunteers to effectively guide RSR over the next several years. To that end, we are continuing to work with Lectio through an intensive, six-month, engagement effort at our site that will result in a revised strategic plan.

In the interim, we continually apply the analytical tools and language in our day-to-day management of what’s in place. We feel equipped to use what we learned and strengthen our current programming, as we work towards our goal and the major changes needed.

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