To learn about existing literacy programs and partnerships and to better understand barriers to early literacy building, we engaged deeply with communities in, and around Ontario, Oregon. Beginning in April 2014, we worked closely with the Malheur Education Service District and the Eastern Oregon Community Based Services Hub to convene parents, community partners and education leaders.
The county has the highest poverty rates in the state and many families feel isolated from existing services due to its expansive geographic area. The county also has a rich cultural history with Japanese Americans and a growing Hispanic community. Through the stORytime initiative we set out to better understand both real and perceived barriers families experience in helping their children with early literacy building. Through a series of community conversations spanning months we engaged the community in helping us determine how communication to, and engagement with families about literacy building can alleviate barriers and be both regionally and culturally specific.
On October 2nd we’ll be launching stORytime at an event that brings together community kindergarteners, community and education leaders, local businesses, libraries, and elected officials for a celebration at Treasure Valley Community College. The event will build excitement for students, empower families and challenge the community to come together to put local students on a path to lifelong success by helping to ensure they are reading proficiently by third grade.