September 2022 Newsletter – Back to School Edition

A Message from Reading Allowed’s
Executive Director
Executive Director Angela Marks
Catch them before they fail –
“if someone had intervened, I wouldn’t have gone to jail.”
Reading Allowed will be three years old this September and this is the third time I’ve written an article in September with the same title. I expect next year will be the same because it’s worth repeating.
We know how to screen students as early as pre-K and Kindergarten to identify those students at risk of reading failure, we know how to put fun and easy supports in place for these students and we CAN put them onto a good path before the devastating effects of low literacy have a chance to take hold.
That is why we are so delighted to have received a three-year grant from the William Penn Foundation to work with students at Visitation BVM in Kensington and Mastery Charter School – Wister Campus and why we are thrilled to be supporting students this year at General Meade Elementary and Francis Scott Key School too.
We’ll keep saying it: this isn’t rocket science. We know how to catch them before they fail and now we need to make sure that every student is caught. Just ask Ameer Baraka, actor, author, activist, and educator, who told us at our Open House this year, “if someone had intervened, I wouldn’t have gone to prison.”
To all the kids out there – best of luck this year in school!
Angela Marks
P.S. Watch this powerful video below from my good friend, Ameer Baraka, acclaimed author, actor and dyslexia advocate.
Ameer Baraka Reading Allowed Short Video v5 1
Literacy is a Social Justice Issue
A Special Speaker Series
Reading Allowed, supported by Read by 4th, will kick off its “Literacy is a Social Justice Issue” Speaker Series on Wednesday, October 26th with a panel discussion in the Skyline Room of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Confirmed panelists include Free Library President and Director, Kelly Richards, and Hilderbrand Pelzer III, educator, and author of Unlocking Potential: Organizing a School Inside a Prison. WHYY on-air host and reporter, Avi Wolfman-Arent, will serve as event moderator.
Additional panelists are expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks. The Speaker Series will continue virtually with subsequent dates to be determined, featuring Resha Conroy, Founder of Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children, and Deborah Gordon-Klehr, Executive Director of the Education Law Center.
Read by 4th, a citywide coalition of family, community, and systems leaders protecting every child’s right to read, has signed on to support this initiative. As you will hear at the event, the right to read is an essential right, and Read by 4th’s collective efforts are critical to the success of our children and ultimately of our city. We are thankful for the support the campaign was able to provide to launch the Speaker Series.
We’re Currently Seeking Event Sponsors!
We are looking for supporters who are able to underwrite the costs of a table of eight, including sponsors’ personal guests along with teachers, parents, and community members who are stakeholders in seeing illiteracy eradicated in the City of Philadelphia. 
Sponsors will have the opportunity to invite guests to their table and receive prominent recognition in all promotional materials, on social media, and on our website for support.
If you are interested in sponsoring the Speaker Series, kindly complete the form linked here. You can also contact Angela Marks, Executive Director, at with any questions. 
William Penn Foundation Grant
Reading Allowed received a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation to offer student literacy tutoring and to support the advancement of scientifically-backed literacy practices in classrooms at Visitation BVM School and Mastery Charter School – Wister Campus for the 2022-2023, 2023-2024, and 2024-2025 academic years. The William Penn Foundation provides lead support for this programming.
The program funded by the William Penn Foundation will help address the critical need for accessible literacy tutoring in underserved communities, particularly in communities of color or with a high concentration of English learners. Of equal importance, the grant will enable Reading Allowed the resources to work one-on-one and in small groups with student populations at these schools as well as to support faculty in implementing lasting structured literacy instruction systems in the classrooms.

Tuesday, September 6th is National Read a Book Day! You can celebrate by reading your favorite book, visiting your local bookstore, checking out a new book at your library, or hosting a book club.
Post your photos to your social media on September 6th and add #readingallowed or tag us to show us how you celebrated!
A Conversation About Race – Part Two
In August, Reading Allowed tutors, employees, and board members attended part two of “A Summer Conversation About Race,” facilitated by Toni Graves Williamson. Equipped with knowledge Toni shared during the group’s first meeting and with time to digest what they previously discussed, the group shared perspectives on how racial dynamics impact how we connect with our students and families.
Toni is a nationally recognized diversity practitioner and consultant. She serves as Director of Equity and Inclusion at Friends Select School as well as co-director and facilitator for The Race Institute for K–12 Educators, a non-profit organization that provides a space for educators to do the deeply personal work of understanding their racial identities. 
We are grateful for Toni sharing her expertise with us and look forward to continuing these conversations this year! 

Wilson Meet-and-Greet
This summer, the Wilson Reading System®/Science of Reading Training scholarship recipients had the opportunity to see each other in person at a meet-and-greet. It was so great to get together in person and start this journey as a community. We are so excited for this year!
Attention Educators:
Join Us for Literacy Community of Practice
Reading Allowed is the proud sponsor of the Literacy Community of Practice, a group of literacy leaders committed to improving literacy outcomes for children by sharing ideas, challenges, resources, and research. 
Literacy Community of Practice meets virtually one Thursday each month from 4 pm to 6 pm. Members are invited to present Problems of Practice to discuss and solve with attendees at each meeting. Participation in the group is free and flexible! Please consider participating as no preparation is necessary. 
The first meeting will be held on September 22nd. If you are interested in attending, kindly complete the survey featured in the link below.
We are honored to support this group with co-sponsor, The Literacy Architects!
Help us Fund Our 2022/2023 Goals
Back to School Reading List
(Read Alouds for Younger Audiences)
The thought of going to school can be both exciting and scary. The read-aloud books featured in our September book recommendations are a great way to set the stage for a positive school experience. Below are just a few that we adore, but click on the button to view our entire list for September.

By Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Gr. K-3)
Roll call can be difficult for a child with an unusual name. A young girl describes how her name “got stuck” in her teacher’s mouth and kids “pretended to choke” or “seemed afraid” while hearing it or attempting to pronounce it. As they walk home, Mom reminds her that her “name is a song,” and many other names are as well.

By Shannon Olsen Gr. K-3
A teacher writes a note to her students sharing all the things she is looking forward to for the school year and all the fun things they will experience together.

By Henry Cole (Gr. K-3)
Every day goes smoothly at Hardy Elementary School because Principal Tate keeps everyone happy and everything in order. But when her car breaks down and she’s running late, how will the students, teachers, parents, and visitors get through the day? The solution is simple: everyone at the school must do their part to save the day.

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

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