What is Head Start?

According to the Office of the Administration for Children & Families, Head Start programs promote the school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children from low-income families. Services are provided in a variety of settings including centers, family child care, and children's own home. Head Start programs also engage parents or other key family members in positive relationships, with a focus on family wellbeing. Parents participate in leadership roles, including having a say in program operations.

More on Head Start
More on Head Start

What is Title 1?

Title I is one of the federal funding streams that supplements how much money each state allocates for schools. There are other “Title” funds too, I-VII, all aiming to aid students who have burdens that may get in the way of accessing an equitable education. These burdens include poverty, homelessness, living in state-run institutions, living in isolated rural districts, and those still learning the English language. (There is a separate funding stream for students with disabilities.)

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Title I was created “to ensure economically disadvantaged children receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, by helping to close academic achievement gaps.”

More on Title I
More on Title I

When Team Long Run began looking for a corporate sponsor to help support our programming, we started with Hancock Lumber.

Since arriving in Maine to start up our nonprofit, we’d noticed how consistently Hancock Lumber showed up on everybody’s list as a generous and thoughtful member of the communities they served. They were also perennially at the top of the list as a great place to work. We knew they were doing things right, and we thought they’d be a great partner.

One of the first people we met at Hancock Lumber was Erin Plummer, their Marketing and Communications Director. The president of the company, Kevin Hancock, pointed us in her direction and suggested we get together to explore how TLR and Hancock Lumber might work together to help kids lead happier lives with brighter futures.

Here’s some of what we’ve learned about the link between books in the home and academic success, borrowed from The Literacy Project:

1. By age 2, a child’s brain is as active as an adult’s and by age 3 the brain is more than twice as active as an adult’s – and stays that way for the first 10 years of life.
2. Cognitive processes develop rapidly in the first few years of life. In fact, by age 3, roughly 85% of the brain is developed. However, traditional education takes places in grades K-12, which begin at age five.
3. According to the Department of Education, the more students read or are read to for fun on their own time and at home, the higher their reading scores, generally.
4. Reading and being read aloud to has an impact that extends beyond just hearing stories.
5. 65% of America’s fourth graders do not read at a proficient level.
6. In a study of nearly 100,000 U.S. school children, access to printed materials was the key variable affecting reading acquisition.
7. Children’s academic successes at ages 9 and 10 can be attributed to the amount of talk they hear from birth through age 3. Young children who are exposed to certain early language and literacy experiences also prove to be good readers later on in life.
8. Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language. Books for kids actually contain 50% more words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently than regular conversation, TV or radio.
9. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that children who were read to frequently are also more likely to: count to 20, or higher than those who were not (60% vs. 44%), write their own names (54% vs. 40%), read or pretend to read (77% vs. 57%)
10. Higher reading exposure was 95% positively correlated with a growing region supporting semantic language processing in the brain.
11. The most important aspect of parent talk is its amount. Mothers who frequently speak to their infants have their children learn almost 300 more words by age 2than did children whose mothers rarely spoke to them. Simultaneously, children learn grammatical syntax and the social nuances around communication in their community.
12. Children exposed to fewer colors, less touch, little interaction with adults, fewer sights and sounds, and less language, actually have smaller brains.
13. The number of books in the home correlates significantly with higher reading scores for children.
14. Students who choose what they read and have an informal environment in which to read tend to be more motivated, read more and show greater language and literacy development.
15. Children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than 3 times a week.

Here are some of the social implications of early literacy:

1. Nationally, only 35% of public school students were at or above Proficient in grade 4 reading.
2. In middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children.  
3. 61% of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children.
4. 37% of children arrive at kindergarten without the skills necessary for lifetime learning.
5. 50% of children from low-income communities start first grade up to two years behind their peers.
6. Researchers estimate that before ever entering kindergarten, cognitive scores for children of low-income families are likely to average 60 percent lower than those in the highest socioeconomic groups (a pattern that remains true throughout high school).
7. 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
8. 80% of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for their children.
9. Children from lower-income homes have limited access to books. Because of this, there are fewer home and preschool language and literacy opportunities for preschoolers from low-income families than children from economically advantaged backgrounds.
10. Nationally, about half of children between birth and five years (47.8%) are read to every day by their parents or other family members.
11. On average, children in economically depressed communities have 0-2 age-appropriate books in their homes.
12. A child is 90% likely to remain a poor reader at the end of the fourth grade if the child is a poor reader at the end of first grade.
13. Children in low-income families lack essential one-on-one reading time, whereas on average, children who grow up middle-class families have been exposed to 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading. The average child growing up in a low-income family, in contrast, has only been exposed to 25 hours of one-on-one reading.
14. One in six children who are not reading proficiently in the third grade does not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers. (rate is higher in children from low-income families and rural areas)
15. 68% of America’s fourth graders read at a below proficient level, and 82% of those children are from low-income families.

So, you can see why we’re doing everything we can to get books into deserving homes here in Maine.

Hancock Lumber is very much a forward-thinking company. They understand that resources grow, but that before they can grow, they must be planted. For over 150 years, they’ve seen the necessity of thinking ahead, and realized not only the virtue of patience, but the value of patience. It takes roughly 40 years for a pine to grow to harvest, and a good lumber company understands that. That mind-set makes them a perfect partner for Team Long Run.

The work we do has an immediate impact, but we know the real value is waiting just down the road.

It isn’t hard to see the connections that inspire us, and that have inspired donors to support our work: books in the home encourage early reading/early reading facilitates early learning/early learning supports subsequent learning, which in turn leads to greater confidence and success in adult professional and social endeavors.

donor profiles

Our friend and partner at Friends of the River Valley.

Meet the people we partner with. Their stories of tenacity, commitment, and hope can teach us all.

Read John's Story
Read John's Story