We work with teachers to improve instruction so that children can become powerful readers, writers and thinkers.

We Coach Teachers

We provide one-on-one and small group professional development in the classroom – providing demonstrations and feedback that help teachers incorporate effective balanced literacy practices into their daily work with students.

We Supply Classrooms

We provide the classrooms we work in with learning materials and collections of high-quality children’s literature. We also extend our professional development services online through LEARN (Literacy Education and Resource Network).

We Host Workshops

We provide workshops and seminars that build teachers’ knowledge of literacy content and pedagogy. This provides the foundational knowledge for future one-on-one professional development meetings.

Theory of Action

CLI is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides educators with training and coaching in the most effective practices for early literacy instruction for prekindergarten through third grade. Our workshops and institutes build teachers’ understanding of literacy and the art and science of teaching children how to read and write. By focusing on professional skills that improve over time and are not lost when administrations, buildings, or curricula change, CLI helps create a sustainable, school-wide culture of literacy that introduces students to the joys of reading, writing, and life-long learning.

Mission & Vision

We envision a nation where every child has the power of literacy and the opportunity for a lifetime of success.

Our goal is to close the gap in literacy achievement between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers. We know that early reading = lifelong success. We also know that there is no stronger lever for improving student outcomes than giving teachers high-impact instructional strategies.

CLI’s Innovative Program Design & Accomplishments

CLI’s proven theory of action shows that when teachers receive the right combination and intensity of training and coaching, they can become exemplary instructors. Our program design improves instructional standards for teachers and principals in the most cost effective way, providing training and job-embedded coaching, delivering long-lasting resources (classroom libraries, home lending libraries, literacy materials), and developing school leadership to sustain the work. The program is comprised of a first year for induction, a second year to strengthen implementation, and a third year to deepen practice to ensure sustainability.

CLI’s work has been validated by prestigious organizations and has garnered national attention:

  • The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High-Impact Philanthropy has re-affirmed CLI as an “exemplar agent” in improving early literacy education for philanthropists wanting to make a significant, long-term impact (2008-2014).
  • An OMG Center for Collaborative Learning study showed that kindergartners and first graders in schools with CLI classrooms consistently outperformed peers on literacy skill assessments (2009).
  • Evidence of the value of CLI classrooms was confirmed by our receipt of a $21.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) in 2010. With this and funding from the private sector, CLI is implementing a $26 million program in four urban school districts (Philadelphia, Chicago, Newark and Camden,) over the five-year grant period.
  • NonprofitInvestor.org, which works to improve philanthropic capital allocation using due diligence, research, and analysis, rated CLI a “Buy.” Citing our proven track record and impact model, they concluded that CLI demonstrates a clear impact with a high degree of transparency (2013).
  • CLI earned its third consecutive 4-star rating (out of 4 stars) from Charity Navigator, showing adherence to good governance and fiscal responsibility. Only 12% of rated charities have attained this level, indicating that CLI outperforms most other charities in America.
  • CLI is a gold participant through the GuideStar Exchange. (2014)
  • In a randomized, control-group study, American Institutes for Research’s (AIR) preliminary results of our i3 project show that CLI is significantly impacting kindergarten early reading skills, teacher instructional practice and classroom environment in both kindergarten and first grade classrooms, as well as significantly impacting second grade reading skills (2014).
  • Harvard education professor Heather Hill called these results “welcome news” in an article in the March 7, 2014 edition of Education Week (the standard for education news). “Professional Development Pays Off for i3-Funded Program” described CLI’s project serving 11,750 kindergarten through third graders and 560 teachers, and the study’s positive interim results. Dr. Hill added, “The research seems well-designed, and employs several commonly used measures of classroom practices and student literacy as outcomes, which lends credibility to the study’s results. This information should prove useful to districts seeking to improve their early-grade literacy instruction state of research on professional development.”

2015/16 Annual Report

2016/17 Annual Report


Children’s Literacy Initiative (CLI) was founded in September 1988 by Executive Director Emeritus Linda Katz, and was later joined by Marcia Moon and Pat Federman as co-founders. The early years of CLI were devoted to producing a children’s book event, Children’s Expo. Teachers attending the Expo expressed the need for better training in the best practices for effective literacy instruction as well as the need for classroom book collections.

CLI began to focus on providing collections of excellent children’s books and trainings in reading aloud to teachers and childcare providers in Head Starts and childcare centers in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. We quickly learned that books and one-time trainings alone were not enough to create lasting change, so we expanded our service model to include sustained training. This included recurring seminars and workshops examining a variety of topics in literacy instruction and personalized, job-embedded coaching to help educators put newly-learned teaching strategies into practice.

Evidence of the value of CLI classrooms was confirmed by our 2010 receipt of a highly competitive $21.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund.

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