New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to host mayoral forum

Candidates to discuss the city’s need for increased municipal support of early care, education

NEW ORLEANS –The New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading – partnering with United Way of Southeast Louisiana and the Institute for Mental Hygiene – is hosting its first mayoral forum on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 at WYES. The forum will provide the mayoral race’s top three candidates - Michael Bagneris, LaToya Cantrell and Desiree M. Charbonnet – the ability to discuss publicly their positions related to the need for an increased municipal investment in quality early learning opportunities and summer learning programing for New Orleans’ children, birth through age eight.

Expert business and nonprofit panelists will pose questions to the candidates to further understand their plans to address the lack of access to high-quality early care and education, and the critical need to increase supports for working families.

The public can tweet questions to the candidates for the audience Q&A segment using the handle @NOLAGLR.

WYES will provide livestreaming online at

The forum has the support of a diverse set of community nonprofit leaders, including Converge, Greater New Orleans Foundation, Kingsley House, Louisiana Children’s Museum, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, Stand for Children, Urban League of Louisiana, and UWSELA Women United.

In conjunction with the event, more than 50 community organization have signed a joint statement of support for increased municipal investments in quality early care and education opportunities.

New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Mayoral Forum

Michael Bagneris, former Civil District Court Judge
LaToya Cantrell, District B City Councilor
Desiree M. Charbonnet, former Municipal Court Judge

Todd Battiste, UWSELA, Vice President - Education
Melanie BronfinLouisiana Policy Institute for Children, Executive Director
Revia EllisStand for Children, parent organizer
Patty RiddlebargerEntergy Corporation, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility

Wednesday, September 27, 2017  |  5-7 p.m.

916 Navarre Ave
New Orleans, LA 70124

Live Tweeting: @NOLAGLR

The New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and partners encourage the next mayor of New Orleans to commit to increasing the city’s municipal investment in children by:
· Creating a department of children and families within the Mayor’s office;
· Creating a dedicated city funding stream to increase the number of New Orleans children, birth through age three, who can access high-quality early care and education; and
· Increasing investment in high-quality summer programming that stems summer learning loss for children, birth through age eight, and helps keep them on track for success.

The future of New Orleans depends on the city’s investment in our children. Research shows that young children who participate in high-quality early learning programs are four times more likely to graduate from high school and become more productive citizens than their peers who do not participate in such programs. This is because 80 percent of brain development happens between birth and age three, which provides the foundation for future learning and social and emotional development.

High-quality early care and education prepares students for success, enables families to be productive in the workforce, and supports a thriving local economy. Yet, less than 16 percent of at-risk New Orleans children birth through age three have access to a publicly-funded child care seat. This is in spite of the fact that most New Orleans parents – 66 percent of married parents and 67 percent of single mothers – are working, and need access to affordable, high-quality child care, which costs almost as much as tuition for a state college or university.

High-quality summer programming supports families in the workforce and can close the reading achievement gap for low-income students by two years between kindergarten and fourth grade. Yet, more than 2,000 New Orleans children, between the ages of four and eight, who are living in poverty do not have access to a publicly-funded summer program.


About the New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
The New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative of leaders from government, business, education, families and the non-profit sector who have committed to working together for the next decade to increase the number of New Orleans students who are reading on grade level by the end of third grade. We are doing this by focusing on three primary drivers of third-grade reading: increasing the number of children who enter school ready to learn, improving attendance during the critical early years, and preventing summer learning loss.

About United Way of Southeast Louisiana
For more than 90 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and making a lasting difference. We fight to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes, and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable – and we have a plan. United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Blueprint for Prosperity guides all strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty. For more information, please visit Find us on social: @UnitedWaySELA.


About the Institute of Mental Hygiene
The Institute of Mental Hygiene (IMH) was established in 1937 by Samuel Zemurray for the purpose of carrying on study, research, and treatment, in the city of New Orleans in the field of mental hygiene and psychiatry. Through its grant making programs and its leadership, IMH has supported a broad range of programs promoting the development of optimal mental health for young children, youth, and their families in New Orleans. IMH's mission is to promote optimal mental health for children and their families in New Orleans. For more information, please visit