Contact Us Take The Pledge      
Transforming a Generation: 90% Literacy by Third Grade
Join the others who have taken the pledge:
Carol David, jacki decaro, Tirso Moreno, VBKA, Guillermina Walker, Rhonda McGilberry, Vero Beach Magazine, Mary Ann Kalin, Arianna Lagges, shelby dorris, Kim Brady, Michael Van Houten, Ramon Echeverria, Margaret Autullo, Lisa McFaland, Kristen Jones, Yasmin Medina, Elizabeth Stenger, Cindi Ellis, Kay Yurigan, AmeriCorps/Big Brothers Big Sister, Kerilyn Ngom, Susan Rosier, jennifer roker, Jenna Chatfield, tommy collettit, ruth darrigo, Gina Sultaire, Clare Hughes, Heather Thompson, Lisa Bishop, -1' 1, GoldenTabs VlNDAmqBXuOUgPSzn, Rose Brickles, Ana Renuart, Carla Cundiff, Susan Rosier, Whole Child Indian River, Shannon Gillen, Brooke Flood, Thomas Moore, Kaori Fischer, tommy collettit, Hayley Gondek, Christina Lindgren, ggdxfg fdgfh, Sara Goodman, Tisa Blidgen, Diane Bressner, Angela Bosman, Cathy Durrett-Filusch, Elizabeth Pinkney, Juelie Perry, Liz Tetreault, Ralph Autullo, Laura McGill, Elias Medina, Angela Jawhar, Kim Klaus, kari broomell, Emilia Jacobs, Elizabeth Pinkney, Rebecca Turner, Deborah Dillon, buzz wurzer, Jessica Cox, Harvest Food & Outreach Center, Teri Dugan, ann prince, Keondra Eberhardt, Heather Quigley, Sandra Daniel, Sterling Bobbitt , Maria Alvarez, Fellsmere Police Department FPD, 1 -1', JIM BATORY, valerie conway, Donna Hedgecock, kayla poindexter, Angel Maldonado, Lydia Galbraith, janice pagan, Cheryl Gondek, Indian River County Chamber of, Ramon Echeverria, Kathleen Nealy, Melissa Hall, Janet Farmer, Donna Hedgecock, mardy hall, Isabel Marron , Tricia Boyle, Diane Donar, Tessa Stanley, Andrea Cosner, Megan Falcone, Christina Hayes, allene moorehead, Ramon Echeverria, Laurie Pedersen, Amanda Stevens, Mary Graves, Di Pugh, uritayay, Becky Allen, Sharon Klein, Jennifer Croom, Sherry White, Amanda Emanuel, Pamela Prange, yaquelin andrade, Achillies Pace, Shariea Shoatz, Elizabeth Tetreault, Tessa House, Shawna Carton, Katherine Wolf, Kenny Carmichael, Lilibeth Ballina, Wendi Adams, Joy Lukomski, Patrick Toole, Arlene Kahn, Fenia Hiaasen, Krishna Patel, Marisela Luna, Beth Livers, Christy Baer, Natalie Arbuckle, audrey colonna, Boys & Girls Clubs of Indian River County, Carolina Rojas, Amy Speak, Helene Caseltine, Lillian Marsiglia, Tara Miranda, Jennifer Steele, Dorothy Cominsky, Pamela Miller, Jayne Becker, Hollie McDougall, Susan Aguirre , shelby dorris, TLA, Nicolas ospina de la hoz, Devi Maharajh, Judy Whalen, Agnieszka Szymanska, Dr. Connie Proskovec, Heather Thompson, Emily Wick, Helene Caseltine, Jamie Stalter, Erin Hollander, sharon butler, Heather Helton, Marie OBrien, Becky Warren, Jennifer Seifstein, maria marron, Tina Campbell, Raquel Searcy, Mari Seg, Brittany Lindsey, Kelly Sartain, Amy Kelly, Linda Hammerle, Heidi Lourie, mardy hall, Lisa Barnum, Fourth Quadrant Partners, Rebecca Blair, Dean Stewart Photography, Annie Brown, Jeanne Prince, Barneyxcq yWxcSpFGWvTabbVDxz, Sherrie Hale, Milli Wenzel, Lisa Guilmette, carrie fernandez, Kathryn Woodall, F.A.C.T. Fellsmere Action Community Team, Patricia Beaudoin, Kimberly Robideau, Nancy Blessing, test test, Indian River Taekwondo Langlois, Katie Collier, Michelle Chandler, sharon richards, Fidelity Investments, Kelli Mejia, Gisele Parker, Angel Maldonado, Robyn Bethel, Nancy Prizito, Taylor Walker, Stacey Klim, Mary Laquidara, Toni Reukauf, Dorie Shemo, Gloria Severino, Mike Gaudio, Autumn Wheeler, Gloria Luna, Janai Cooper, Keith Touchberry, Louis and Sara Smith, Mary Kramek, Michele Smith, Nicole Piontek, Nancy De La Hoz, hannah kaufeh, elizabeth bahl, Bent Pine Golf Club, Doug Glenn, Adam Faust, Kelli Mejia, Susan Del Tufo, jorge luis ramirez, Nancy Sparkman, Melinda Judson, Kristin Culbreth, Kim Klaus, Healthy Families, Mary Strickler, Teri Dugan, Kevin Maloney, Kayla Chitty, briana carter, Andrea Cosner, Annie Brown, Crystal Gothe, Susan Del Tufo, Karen Disney, Heidi Lourie, Susan Del Tufo, Therese Victoria, Kathy Minix, Erica Thomas, Nate & Kristen Bruckner, Dasie Hope Center, renee fraker, Edward Shanaphy, Lesley Lane, Sharon Delo, Alejandrina Micket, LaTanya Morgan, Melody M Englert, Lucy Roy-Delapaz, 1 1, Clare Hughes, Renee Lincoln, United Way of Indian River Co., judy jones, Kathryn Perez, Dr. David Christiansen, Patricia Mandell, Jill Truax, Maria Ortiz, Lisa Segroves, Christine Sturgeon, Annie Brown, Tami Haffield, parker hammond, matt KdPIOvmNNItBy, STEPHANIE CLARK, 1 1, ISABELLA LAGGES, Susan Rosier, donna palmquist, Mindy Lessem Pollack, SHARYN A HAWKER, Linda Condit, Kirra OBrien, Brittany Bailey, Christopher Cummings, Dee Hollenbeck, LaTanya Morgan, Literacy Services, The Buggy Bunch, Farrah Lemanski, Lori Nalls, yaquelin andrade, Milli Wenzel, Mardy Fish Children's Foundation, charlene bentien, Socorro Luna, mary kannapes, Sandy Hamrick, Vero Beach Police Department, Dorie Shemo, Emily Jarrett, Kelley Williams, Matt McManus, Kelly Palmer, Debra Barnesd, Lisa Guillette, Amber Petry, Karen Newkirk, Karen Taylor, Mark yBzNyaFpSKdSM, Renee Boesch, Jeff The Bro, FELLSMERE ELEMENTARY, Vero Beach Museum of Art, East Coast Earthworks & Excavating, Vero Beach Museum of Art, Hope Woodhouse , maria miranda, Mark Farrell, Leslie Connelly, Michelle Bass, Marsha Van Arman, Becky Levesque, Lisa Wheeler, sabrina fraga, Cynthia Jorgensen, John obrien, Randall Hunt, Elaine McGinty, Brenda Zamora, Heather Young, Tara Luton , Casey Dunn, hannah kauferh, Phoebe Beacham, Sharon Klein, cheryl gondek, joshua poindexter, Bill McMullen, Suzi Rusin, Lorri Dior, Narda Pitkethly, Jennifer Roberts, Deirdre Creech, Theresa Wagner, Alaina McCloud, Marta Cronin, jennifer jackson, Fidelity Investments, Gabrielle Wagner, Sonja Phillips, Indian River County Lawyers Auxiliary, Christine Ryall, Tiffany Justice, DOE-OEL, Michele Sternberg, JIM BATORY, LaTanya Gibson, Liane McMullen, Bobbie Donelson, Matthew McManus, Leslie Jones, Nancy Blessing, belinda washimgton-davis, JOY VANHORN, Carrie Spencer, Elizabeth Falkiewicz, Nichole Harris, Samantha Breen, Kerilyn Ngom, Rhonda McGilberry, Tiffany Carlsen, Gifford Youth Activity Center, Megan Falcone, Christina Lindgren, Ralph Sunshine Acquisitions, Janet Alford, Mary Anne Sitkowski, Page Woodward, Kelly Palmer, Jennifer Durrett, Amanda Acker, Ashley Farruggio, Diane Mahan, kelly baysura, Vero Equine Riding Academy , Karen Malits, Debra Schroeder, Paige Newinski, Celeste McWilliams, Chuck Evans, Shanti Sanchez, Tracey Barker, Tanya BRAUN, Kristina Trahan, Gretchen DiVincenzo, -1' 1, FRAN PERKINS, keesha trusty, Laura Zorc, Bridgette Diskin, Katrena McMahan, Stacey Fletcher, audrey colonna, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc., Ann Mathis, Lenora Ritchie, Christy Baer , 1 -1', Barbara Johnson, Rachel Holpfer, Tammy Eriksen, Kristi Challenor, Maureen Nicolace, Tabitha Johnston, Courtney Mellin, Sharon Klein, Isabel Marron , Traci McGough, MAry Grace Hektner, GEORGE JETT, Jody Houston, liz woody, Nancy De La Hoz, Margaret Dawson-Brown, Karen Newkirk, Cathryn Miquelon, Sue Sharpe, Kaori Fischer, Bruce Green, Kidz Closet Charities, Teri Barenborg, Emme Scheible, Ronda Weaver, Kathleen Hamilton, Janie Graves Hoover, 211/Help Me Grow, Patricia Mandell, Sophie Wood, Susan Del Tufo, Jeff Miller,

Changing the world one story at a time.

 

The Learning Alliance told a crowd of educators, volunteers, community leaders and philanthropists a story during the nonprofit's annual gala at the Vero Beach Museum of Art recently -- the story of how “The Power of the Community's Moonshot Story to Change the World” is unfolding right here in Indian River County through the collaborative efforts of literacy proponents.

As guests entered the museum, they were greeted by storybook characters from the Indian River Charter High School Theater Department. Dorothy and the Scarecrow pointed the way to “the Yellow Brick Road;” Alice and the Mad Hatter ushered attendees along so they wouldn't be “late for a very important date,” and Mary Poppins offered up “a spoonful of sugar.”

Lady Literacy reigned supreme over these storybook characters along with several other classic favorites. The theme of the evening focused on how stories shape lives. The Learning Alliance Chairman Ray Oglethorpe shared his story and how education was the mitigating factor in the direction his life took. Instead of farming, working in the coal mines or playing the accordion at the local VFW Hall, the former president of America Online was able to set his sights elsewhere.

“Education gave me everything. It made me who I am. That's why I'm so passionate about making every child succeed in this world,” shared Oglethorpe.

While working with their own young children to overcome reading difficulties, Alliance co-founders Barbara Hammond and Liz Woody-Remington discovered they weren't alone and that student achievement was being stymied by limited resources and a lack of professional development opportunities for educators.

Studies showed that only 35 percent of the nation's third-graders were reading proficiently. Motivated by these staggering numbers, Oglethorpe, Hammond, and Woody-Remington formed the grassroots literacy initiative and partnered with Indian River County Schools to pursue the Moonshot Moment goal of having 90 percent of third-graders reading at grade level by 2018.

“Eight years ago we started this journey, and 2018 was our mission destination. We had big dreams,” recalled Hammond as she introduced a series of videos highlighting the gains local readers have made. “We discovered that to create transformational change, we needed to do it as a community.”

The framework The Learning Alliance has built since their “story” began has resulted in impressive literacy growth, garnering national recognition. This community-based partnership has netted great gains by working to close the student achievement poverty gap, providing extended learning time through after-school and summer programs, and providing crucial professional development to teachers.

Looking at Indian River Academy's success as a model for potential growth opportunities, 95 percent of the students live at or below poverty level; and the school was the worst performer in the district. At the end of this school year, scores are expected to reveal 77 percent literacy achievement, which is double that of the school's test score history.

“For the first time in a long, long while we have no F-rated schools in the school district,” shared Oglethorpe. “We have the highest literacy scores ever in the history of the district; six schools improved their letter grades, and two former F schools became C+ and D- schools.”

Impressive progress given the Indian River County School District is considered to be one of the poorest in the state of Florida, with 68 percent of third-graders receiving free and reduced lunch and schools attempting to provide a stable environment for a population with a student turnover rate of more than 35 percent. Students who attended Moonshot Academies and summer programs showed literacy gains of 57 percent compared to non-Moonshot Academy students.

“We are really onto something here in Vero Beach. This story is real, is continuing to grow; and Indian River County is going to become a model for this nation,” noted Oglethorpe. “If we can get these kids feeling safe, secure and ready to learn, fantastic results can come about. It's not a question of kids can't; it's a question that kids can if we give them the right support, help and guidance to do this stuff.”

Access to professional development opportunities for educators has played a significant role in gains made during the past eight years, according to Woody-Remington. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with these teachers. They have an unprecedented talent and have participated in professional development that has been transformative. It is because of the partnership between The Learning Alliance, the district and the schools that we have been able to come together and really create change and innovation.”

Tyler Ginn, a 14-year-old Freshman Learning Center student, told the audience that when he was in the third grade, trying to read was “like trying to learn something that makes no sense.”

As a struggling reader he felt utterly alone, but after participating in a pilot program offered by The Learning Alliance, Ginn said, “I could finally understand what I was reading. I wasn't afraid to go to school anymore. It felt like I actually finally fit in.”

His mother Shelby Ginn confided, “Without the extra help that Tyler received from The Learning Alliance, I don't know where we would be today. I credit The Learning Alliance in saving my son's life.”

“Since I came here in 1985, we've seen a great art museum; we've seen a wonderful cultural center at Riverside Theatre; and with the Cleveland Clinic coming in, we're going to have a world-class medical facility. Now I think it's in our grasp as we become a model for the nation and also have a world-class public education system,” announced Oglethorpe.

To celebrate their success and with a promise to continue changing the lives of children through literacy, “one story at a time,” Oglethorpe along with the help of a brass band led the crowd out of the museum with parasols and Moonshot handkerchiefs waving in the air in a New Orleans-style Second Line parade.

“In 2010 The Learning Alliance set the Moonshot goal, and even though we didn't quite make the goal, we've had a lot of successes,” announce Oglethorpe.