In Conversation With Literacy Trust

February 3rd, 2022
In Conversation With Literacy Trust

Programs Coordinator Devon Stein spoke with Phylisa Wisdom of Literacy Trust, a member organization of Nonprofit New York. We will continue to highlight the work of our members because we believe when your nonprofit is stronger, all of us are stronger.

Tell me about the organization and what you do.

The mission of Literacy Trust is to leverage what already exists in school communities - talented, passionate adults - to build capacity and create fluent, motivated, self-confident readers. Literacy Trust's Reading Rescue program model engages teachers and non-teachers (paraprofessionals and school aides) in intervention, while also directly creating more literacy intervention opportunities for students: particularly students of color in high-poverty neighborhoods. Literacy Trust provides professional development in its signature program, Reading Rescue, and supports schools to implement the model in their classrooms.

How many people are on your team?

What population do you serve?
Literacy Trust focuses on strengthening our program model and expanding it wherever possible to reach struggling early learners in school communities of need throughout all five boroughs of New York City. This includes 1st and 2nd graders who are below benchmarks for literacy. Literacy Trust strives to one day see a world in which all students are literate by the end of second grade. We know that the ability to read is the foundation of social equality. At Literacy Trust, we promote events, ideas, thinking, and programs that inspire action in pursuit of universal access to literacy intervention. We work directly with high-need schools, their staff, students, and aim to impact the broader community for years to come through this capacity-building and intervention model. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that closed schools across the city and required hybrid in-person and remote learning, we have begun partnering with CBO school partners to offer after school or summer intervention.

Where do you see your organization in the next five years or ten years?
We see our organization continuing to service more and more school communities across NYC , serving the highest number of students possible. In 2018, we supported 90 schools, and throughout the following years we have scaled to reach 140 school and community partners in the school year 2020-2021 and 160+ school and community partners this year. We will continue our strategic planning in pursuit of a growth plan to reach more partners so that every student is literate by the end of first grade, and every school in NYC has robust literacy intervention programming for students in grades K-3 . In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s closed schools across the city, we have begun partnering with CBO school partners to offer after school or summer intervention. We expect to grow this facet of our work to meet evolving needs, and with the understanding that schools are not our only educational communities.

How has partnering with Nonprofit New York helped you succeed?
Nonprofit New New York’s online resources and mayoral forum have been helpful to our executive team in our first year of membership, and we look forward to continuing to partner and attend in-person events in 2021 and beyond!

What are you currently working on that you want us to mention to our membership?
When school buildings were closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19, Literacy Trust rapidly pivoted our program model from in-person delivery to an online system for live, remote instruction to ensure that no instructional time was lost for Reading Rescue students. Since March 2020, Literacy Trust has focused on maintaining support for our school partners through remote professional development and coaching. We have trained over 897 Reading Rescue instructors in the remote version of the program/ We took what we have learned at the end of the 2019-2020 school year and further improved our online offerings, so no school or community partner has had to go without this critical intervention during an entirely hybrid 2020-2021 school year. Literacy Trust is tackling the immense learning loss head-on this summer, by working to train more instructors in high-need schools. For the first time, we are offering summer PD, coaching, and program technical support to all existing school partners with capacity. We are committed to supporting instructors and students during this time of profound uncertainty, trauma, and learning loss, and would like to talk to any CBO with a shared mission for their school partners, particularly those managing community schools in the city.