CLI’s most significant accomplishment may be raising expectations for what 4- to 8-year-old students from high-poverty neighborhoods are capable of achieving. Our work has countered the myth that children from disadvantaged households have too many obstacles to overcome to reach the literacy levels of their more privileged peers. Instead, we have demonstrated that when instruction is expert, almost all children will learn to read.

“We’re proud to partner with Children’s Literacy Initiative as they empower early-childhood educators who are working to ensure all students become great readers and critical thinkers,” said Nadya Chinoy Dabby, assistant deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. “Through their work in Camden, Chicago, Newark and Philadelphia, CLI has supported educators serving more than 34,000 students across the country—without compromising the quality or integrity of their programs. Discovering new and better ways to support great teaching is essential to the promise of public education, and CLI’s results are an important step in the right direction.”

CLI’s work has been validated by prestigious organizations and has garnered national attention for its ability to raise student literacy scores while building schools’ internal capacities for teacher professional development:

  • The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High-Impact Philanthropy has re-affirmed CLI as an “exemplar agent” improving early literacy education and making a long-term impact (2008-2014).
  • A 2009 control-group study by OMG Center for Collaborative Learning, funded by the William Penn Foundation, showed that kindergartners and first graders in Philadelphia schools with CLI classrooms consistently outperformed peers on district literacy skill assessments.
  • Evidence of the value of CLI classrooms was confirmed by our 2010 receipt of a highly competitive $21.7 million grant from the first year of the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund.
  • Results from a three-year, randomized control-group study of CLI’s i3 project in four cities by American Institutes for Research, finalized in 2015, showed that:
    • Kindergarten and second grade students in CLI schools scored significantly higher on standardized early reading tests than students whose teachers were not exposed to CLI.
    • CLI had a significant positive impact on the quality of teachers’ literacy instruction in both kindergarten and first grade classrooms.


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