History of The Children's Reading Foundation

Our History

  • 1996 - The Children’s Reading Foundation® is Formed

    Five citizen founders and eight Washington school districts come together to start the foundation with the belief that the entire community is responsible and part of the solution to reading proficiency. The goal is adopted that 90 percent of students will read proficiently by the end of third grade.

    The Children’s Reading Foundation first supported students in Benton and Franklin Counties in Washington to support attaining the high standards required by the state’s Educational Reform Act of 1993. The foundation later expanded to become The Children’s Reading Foundation national office and the Mid-Columbia Chapter, both headquartered in Kennewick, Washington.

    The Children’s Reading Foundation’s research, messaging, tools and programs spread nationwide to help children read on grade level by the end of third grade and develop the required skills for a successful school career.

  • 2000 - Team Read is Developed

    This tutoring program trains volunteers to tutor struggling readers in first, second and third grade. Supplemental reading sessions help students improve literacy skills, so they avoid falling behind at the beginning of their education.

  • 2002 - READY! for Kindergarten® is Created, Sets Age-Appropriate Learning Targets

    The READY! for Kindergarten school readiness program is launched to engage parents and caregivers of children from birth to age 5 in pre-kindergarten developmental activities. READY! workshops provide parents and caregivers with the knowledge, tools and techniques to be the most effective teachers they can be to nurture a child’s learning, so they have skills necessary on day one of kindergarten.

  • 2003 - Awareness Campaign Brings Success

    Following a four-year awareness campaign in Southeastern Washington, 99.2 percent of parents recognize the message, “Read With a Child 20 Minutes Every Day.”

  • 2004 - READY! for Kindergarten and Team Read Programs Expand

    READY! is developed for child care providers and adapted for teen parents and their babies. Team Read is approved as a high school class for credit in Career and Technical Education.

  • 2007 - Release of Book, Annual Growth, Catch Up Growth, Features The Children’s Reading Foundation Work

    The book details easy to replicate and proven methods to assure student achievement in reading and math, including establishing The Children’s Reading Foundation community chapters and READY! for Kindergarten programs. Annual Growth, Catch Up Growth can be purchased from the Products & Resources page.

  • 2009 - Independent Research Proves READY! Makes a Difference

    A grant from the Washington State Department of Early Learning funds an independent research study showing 79 percent of children, whose parents attended READY! for Kindergarten workshops, met the kindergarten reading readiness standard, compared to 55 percent of children whose parents did not attend, regardless of family income level. READY! attendees also outperformed non-attendees in math readiness.

  • 2010 - Research Again Proves Effectiveness of the READY! for Kindergarten Program

    Another independent research study shows students of families exposed to READY! for Kindergarten had statistically significant higher scores on a pre-reading letter naming test than did those whose families were not exposed to READY! (average scores were 16.35 and 9.40 respectively). This study took place in the Othello School District in Washington state. The district is well-suited for examining the effectiveness of a reading intervention for children at high risk for school failure because 77 percent of the student population qualifies for free or reduced lunch.

  • 2010 - Elgin Foundation Awards Grant to The Children’s Reading Foundation

    A three-year grant by the Elgin Foundation of Knoxville, Tennessee, creates chapters of The Children’s Reading Foundation in Appalachia regions of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee.

  • 2010 - The Children’s Reading Foundation Shares Expertise in Early Learning and School Readiness

    President Nancy Kerr presents at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference and joins other national leaders advising the Annie E. Casey Foundation on its Campaign for Grade Level Reading.

  • 2011 - READ Up: Stop the Summer Slide is Piloted

    A gift from the Regina D. Weiss Literacy Legacy funds the pilot READ Up: Stop the Summer Slide program. This literacy program is launched to help reverse the “summer slide,” a situation where students lose up to three months of reading skills when school is out. 2012 – The READ Up Program Launches to Help Reverse “Summer Slide” READ Up is offered nationwide and features eight weekly free storytimes for children from birth to age 8 and their parents or caregivers.

  • 2012 - The Children’s Reading Foundation Receives Innovative Approaches to Literacy Grant

    The Children’s Reading Foundation is awarded a $2.87 million federal grant to expand programming to 19 high-need school districts in Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, Tennessee, Indiana, and Michigan.

  • 2013 - PBS Features READY! for Kindergarten

    A segment featuring READY! is distributed to public television stations in all 50 states, bringing substantial awareness to our proven school readiness program.

  • 2013 - READY! for Kindergarten Receives “Top 100 Program” Distinction

    Readers of District Administration magazine, a national publication, informing superintendents and other senior school district leaders about products and programs that improve educational outcomes and operational efficiency, select READY! for Kindergarten as a “Top 100 Program.”

  • 2014 - The Children’s Reading Foundation Receives Second Innovative Approaches to Literacy Grant

    The U.S. Department of Education awards The Children’s Reading Foundation a $3.8 million federal grant to expand programming to 16 very high poverty school districts and communities. States include Oregon, Washington, Idaho, New Mexico, Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, and Maryland.

  • 2015 - Kerr Retires as Head of Foundation

    Nancy Kerr retires as the head of the organization and joins the foundation’s board of directors.

  • 2015 - Donahoe to Lead Foundation

    Rick Donahoe is selected by the board of directors to serve as the foundation CEO.

  • 2016 - Celebrating 20 Years of Literacy and Learning

    The Children’s Reading Foundation and partners nationwide, commemorate the foundation’s 20th anniversary of serving families, schools and communities to ensure children from birth through third grade develop the skills required for all future learning.

  • 2016 – U.S. Rep. Newhouse Speaks in Honor of Read With a Child Week

    Official remarks on the House floor by U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse of Washington in support of Read With a Child Week are recorded in the Congressional Record.

  • 2016 – Inaugural Read With a Child Week Held

    The foundation launches its inaugural Read with a Child Week, September 18-24, 2016. Nationwide reading events are held to emphasize the vital importance of daily reading with children from birth through third grade.

  • 2017 – Donahoe Retires as CEO

    Rick Donahoe retires after serving as head of The Children’s Reading Foundation.

  • 2017 – Norell Selected to Head Foundation

    The board of directors selects Kristin Norell as the foundation’s new Chief Executive Officer.

  • 2017 – READY! for Kindergarten Receives Washington STEM Foundation Grant

    The foundation was awarded the grant to develop a READY! for Math® prototype using its READY! for Kindergarten play with a purpose approach to help build early math skills for children ages 3 – 5.

  • 2019 — National School Readiness Study

    The Children’s Reading Foundation releases a national school readiness study “Readiness for Entering Kindergarten: The Impact on Future Academic Achievement.” The study establishes children’s kindergarten starting points predict their academic achievement in fifth grade and beyond.

    The findings have far-reaching implications as communities struggle to close the achievement gap. The research indicates that if families, schools, and communities focus on a child’s early learning in the years before kindergarten, the achievement gap will narrow significantly.

    The study is available ReadingFoundation.org/Research.

  • 2021 – Foundation Marks 25 Years of Serving Families, Schools, and Communities

    For 25 years and counting, The Children’s Reading Foundation and its program partners nationwide and in Canada have provided literacy and early learning programs to ensure children learn to read early and well, thereby reaching their full potential in school and in life.