Join the Fight: Support Early Care and Education in New Orleans

The New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading needs your help to urge local government to commit funds for desperately-needed quality early care and education in New Orleans.

Join the fight for by signing the Campaign’s joint letter of support calling on Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the New Orleans City Council, and the Orleans Parish School Board to increase significantly investment in early learning. The letter will be presented an Orleans Parish School Board meeting on Oct. 11 and at upcoming City Council budget hearings.

Sixty-nine percent of third graders in New Orleans public schools are not reading on grade level by the end of third grade – an important indicator of future success. Third grade reading proficiency significantly improves a child’s prospects for graduating high school on time and earning high wages. This issue disproportionately affects low-income students, who are nearly 40 percent less likely than their more affluent peers to read on grade level by the end of third grade.

United Way of Southeast Louisiana - kay fennelly summer literacy

The New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a United Way of Southeast Louisiana collaborative grant in partnership with the Institute of Mental Hygiene, Converge, and Data Center, is a multidisciplinary collaboration of community members and professionals working to ensure all students in New Orleans reach the third grade reading milestone.  

The Campaign focuses on three research-based strategies for driving reading success: improving school readiness, reducing chronic absence, and promoting summer learning.

The collaborative has made significant strides in two short years, building a strong coalition, securing a historic $750,000 investment in early childhood education from the New Orleans City Council, and launching the Kay Fennelly Summer Literacy Institute, a pilot effort to incorporate literacy activities into local summer programs and prevent summer learning loss. The Institute is named in honor of Kay Fennelly, a former educator, thanks to a generous $100,000 gift to United Way of Southeast Louisiana from her son and UWSELA Million-Dollar Roundtable member David Fennelly.

Funding innovative collaborations like the New Orleans Grade-Level Reading Campaign is part of our plan to move people out of poverty in Southeast Louisiana. When children aren’t limited by lagging literacy skills, they are one step closer to having the social, educational, and financial assets needed to create a better future.

Learn more about the work of the New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level reading from Jillian Delos Reyes and hear about the upcoming 22nd annual Harvest Cup Polo Classic, held at Fennelly’s Summergrove Farms, from the Junior League of Greater Covington on this week’s edition of LIVE UNITED radio.