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

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.