February 2023 Newsletter


A Message from our Executive Director
Executive Director Angela Marks

More than 100 people attended Reading Allowed’s, “Literacy is a Social Justice Issue” event in January and I know they felt the same way I did about our speaker, Resha Conroy. Resha was informative, thought-provoking and passionate. She is the Founder and Chairperson of The Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children and their mission is to eliminate the amplified inequities for Black children experiencing unaddressed Dyslexia and related learning disabilities.

The statistics quoted in a recent Washington Post article speak for themselves.

White eighth-graders outperformed Black eighth-graders by 24 points and Hispanic eighth-graders by 17 points.

I’m quoting directly from the article here, because they say it so well:

“The reasons are multifaceted: Black and Hispanic students are more likely to attend schools with fewer resources and higher teacher turnover. They are more likely to come from low-income homes where getting basic needs met can interfere with school and learning. And they are less likely to have teachers from their racial and ethnic background, a factor that numerous studies have shown depresses academic achievement.”

Resha, in our interview, talked about “structured literacy deserts:” “places where, if your child needs a reading intervention or support, it’s very difficult to find. You have to go outside of your community.”

And that is why Reading Allowed is working so hard to bring the high quality structured literacy instruction that every student deserves to communities across Philadelphia that would otherwise not have the access. That is why we are:

  • providing structured literacy tutoring on an individual basis regardless of financial circumstances to more than 140 students;
  • partnering with underserved schools and community organizations to serve 100+ students by supporting faculty in implementing best structured literacy practices in their classrooms, screening and identifying those students at risk of reading failure and providing small group, and individual instruction to those students;
  • funding structured literacy certification scholarships to broaden and diversify our pool of instructors to reflect the diversity of students we serve;
  • bringing attention to the literacy crisis in Philadelphia and its consequences to the wider community by means of our Speaker Series, “Reading is a Social Justice Issue;”
  • Sponsoring a Literacy Community of Practice for teachers and literacy leaders to share ideas, challenges, resources, and research regarding all things literacy related, including topics such as writing, close reading, anti-racist classroom techniques, culturally responsive education, and engaging students virtually to meet the needs of our students who struggle.

We will keep doing this until we are no longer needed because structured literacy deserts are a thing of the past.

Angela Marks

Speaker Series Recap

We are thankful to Resha Conroy, Founder, and Chairperson of the Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children, for joining us for a conversation for our virtual Speaker Series event. The event was both informative and inspiring, and we are pleased to share the recording with you.

Helpful Resources

This selection of resources complements our Speaker Series conversation with Resha Conroy, as well as provides information regarding Dyslexia, literacy, and legislation. Simply click on the blue links below for more information.

Register Now For Our Open House

Please join us for a virtual Open House on Thursday, February 23 at 7:00 p.m.

  • Learn about our mission and programs
  • Hear about our accomplishments from 2022 and our goals for 2023
  • Listen to what Reading Allowed partners are saying
  • Hear from Terrell Bagby, Deputy Commissioner, Restorative and Transitional Services, Philadelphia Department of Prisons

Reading Allowed Executive Director, Angela Marks, M.Ed., will also be available to answer questions after the presentation.


Please Welcome Another Reading Allowed Baby!

Congratulations to Reading Allowed Program Manager, Katie McShane, on her new addition, Margo Evelyn. Big brother, Owen, is doing a wonderful job in his new role!

Celebrate Black History Month

with Reading Allowed

This month’s collection of children’s books highlights Black culture, historical figures, and triumphs–as well as the inequities and injustice that still exist–that enable young readers to learn about the Black experience in America

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe

By Deborah Blumenthal (Grades K-3)


As soon as Ann Cole Lowe could walk, her mother and grandma taught her to sew. She worked near her mother in their Alabama family shop in the early 1900s, making beautiful dresses for women who went to fancy parties. When Ann was 16, her momma died, but Ann continued sewing dresses. It wasn’t easy, especially when she went to design school and had to learn alone, separated from the rest of the class.  She went on to design First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress and the dress actress Olivia de Havilland wore to the Oscars when she won for Best Actress. Rarely given credit, Ann Cole Lowe was a visionary who persevered in times of hardship, making elegant gowns for the women who loved to wear them.


Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barack Obama’s Inspiring and Historic Residency

BPete Souza (Grades 5 and up)


Throughout his historic presidency, Obama engaged with young people as often as he could, encouraging them to be their best and do their best and to always “dream big dreams.” This book features over seventy-five full-color photographs that show the qualities of President Obama that make him both a great leader and an extraordinary man.


Streetcar To Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York

By Amy Hill Hearth (Grades 3-7)

When Elizabeth Jennings, a young black woman on her way to church, refused to get off a New York City streetcar, she was literally roughed up and thrown off by the driver and a police officer. Luckily there were people who took up her cause for justice, including a young lawyer who went on to become a U.S. president (Chester Arthur). The year was 1854, years before the Civil War and a century before Rosa Parks. Few people know about Jennings and how her case impacted discrimination laws in the northern city where she lived as a free black woman.

Reading Allowed participates in the United Way’s Donor Choice Program. Our Donor Code is 55108


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