Literacy Lab provides direct service programs to young children and their families by leveraging three critical components early learners need when building a strong learning foundation–access to high quality interactive literacy resources, empowering relationships between children, family and educators, and use of technologies that will personalize learning and propel a child into reading success and a lifelong love of learning. Literacy Lab was founded in October 2014 by Mialisa T. Bonta, former Executive Director of Bring Me A Book. We are an independent 501c3 tax-exempt organization.
In the United States, less than 30% of children under the age of four are enrolled in high quality preschool programs. This means that most children are not able to access the early learning resources they need to thrive as they enter into kindergarten, to set them on the course for meeting critical skill benchmarks in elementary school, secondary school, and beyond. Children from low-income families experience a 30-million word gap by age four compared to their higher income peers, which severely impacts their positive language development, kindergarten readiness and continued academic growth. Our children are not being exposed to interactive language, math talk,or other social and health activities essential for their growth. Their future success is being determined before they are able to make their own decisions. But we can change that. Technological innovation in digital content, eBooks and learning apps have created a platform for greater access to learning opportunities. Our programs have always focused on the earliest years, driven by research that highlights the existence of this critical learning gap that manifests as early as age two. We seek to change the learning trajectory for under-resourced children and children experiencing poverty.
Literacy Lab’s integrated suite of programs encourages parent and caregiver engagement as their child’s first teacher. Literacy Lab seeks to change access by providing parents books and learning tools in the home to help increase the learning opportunities their children have; change action by introducing blended learning interventions, leveraging the fact that 79% of Literacy Lab’s parents are already using mobile devices to help teach reading and math skills, and that 81% of the teachers we surveyed believe that “tablets can enrich classroom education.” We seek to take advantage of providing content to support digital natives in their early learning years; and change lives—by empowering families and fundamentally shifting the early literacy and developmental opportunities for vulnerable children.
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Our team hails from a myriad of cultures, geographies, and backgrounds—bringing a bit of the world into our work. But there is one thing we all have in common: The Passion For Early Learning. Literacy Lab was born in the heart of Silicon Valley, next to the Google and Microsoft offices in Mountain View, California. We’re being raised in Oakland, housed amongst other non-profit organizations that share common causes. We’ve lived out of various mobile offices and Impact Hubs throughout the Bay Area as we have launched. But, where we work doesn’t matter, who we reach is important to us. Literacy Lab serves the Bay Area: Peninsula, Oakland, Richmond, Marin and San Francisco; and Southern Alameda County. We will also support Bring Me A Book programs in Sacramento and Central Valley during our launch.
Since Literacy Lab’s founding, our team has delivered 194 new programs, serving 5,909 families and children. From October 1 2014 – May 30, 2015 Literacy Lab has placed 20 new Bookcase Library programs, 35 new Take Home Books programs, delivered 35 new Educator Workshops, 99 new Parent Workshops, and provided 4,500 books to 1,500 Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten children in Richmond. Through our Digital4Literacy program, Literacy Lab staff served 191 children in five sites who read 3,981,978 words and 14,308 eBooks, and we delivered 18 parent trainings. Literacy Lab also continues to foster all existing Take Home Books and Bookcase Library sites in Northern California that were delivered by Bring Me A Book.