An aggressive education initiative is underway to give every Hawaii child the tools to read at or above their grade level. The "W.K. Kellogg Foundation" donated 10-million dollars to the campaign. Here to tell us more are Executive Director of "The Good Beginnings Alliance," Elisabeth Chun, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation Vice President of Programs, Greg Taylor.
ANGELA KEEN: Greg, you're here in Hawaii for this project, how special is Hawaii for this?
GREG TAYLOR: It really is a primary state for us; we've worked with states all across the country and Hawaii has a historical connection with us so it's very important work that's going on here.
ANGELA: Why do we have a historical connection?
GREG: We believe that readiness in the community starts with community based partners and Hawaii's a legacy of communities working together on behalf of their children, was really something that we wanted to build on and move forward with the work.
ANGELA: Liz, there are some statistics that say only 52% of third graders in Hawaii read at or above their grade level...
ELISABETH CHUN: They're not reading at grade level.
ANGELA: How astounding is that to look at those numbers for Hawail?
ELISABETH: It shows an area in which we need to concentrate and if we want the rest of the children reading at grade level at third grade, we got to pay attention to what happens to them in the early years. We call it "P3" which stands for "Provisions for Early Learning Through 3rd Grade". So how do we work with the early education community and the providers and parents to help support both pre-literacy and pre-math skills working in ways that are culturally responsive to the families and how then do we align that and work with our K3 teachers to make some of the programs more developmentally appropriate and really meeting the children's needs as they transition into the K3 schools.
ANGELA: In Hawaii, a lot of parents are busy working two to three jobs so they can make it so they don't always have the oversight to look at homework and reading. What can the schools do, what can the parents do?
ELISABETH: This is a partnership and this really is what the initiative is all about so parents, for literacy, the most important thing is to read to your child every day. Find ways to get to the library to read to your child and schools, to encourage parents involved in that reading, having parents come in and read to their children even at school and improve the literacy work that we do.
ANGELA: Greg, 10-million-dollars is a lot of money, is that just for Hawaii or all across the country?
GREG: It's just for Hawaii, and what we're really excited to use these funds really is to build on the partnerships that exist that we want to re-engage and keep engaged the business community because we know the private sector is really important involved in this work. We want to build on the work that's already going, where young people and community and parents and advocates are working together improving the outcome of their children so this money is to go directly to communities and existing partnerships to help young people meet their learning goals so we're really excited to be here.
ANGELA: Are there any particular schools that you're looking at as examples?
GREG: We have some relationships with some local schools.
ELISABETH: Kamaile and Maili in Waianae, we've been working very closely with them. There are also some schools on Kauai and Lanai.