We’re closing the early learning gap
Since 2003, Ready to Learn Providence has worked to close the achievement gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers. We improve the education and health of young children (birth to 8) chiefly by working with the adults who play the largest role in their lives – family members, early childhood educators and medical practitioners.
Much of our work focuses on the professional development of center- and home-based educators in Providence’s most distressed neighborhoods, as well as in the nearby cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls. We have trained more than 3,500 educators (in English and Spanish), and we now offer many of our services statewide.
We are currently in a partnership with the Providence Public School Department to bring Mind in the Making to some 2,500 family members and staff at the city’s elementary schools. Mind in the Making is an eight-session workshop that covers the essential life skills, also called executive function skills, that children need to succeed in school. This initiative is funded with an Investment in Innovation grant through the U.S. Department of Education coupled with matching grants from local and national foundations and businesses.
Professional development courses, which we offer to early childhood educators as often as funding allows, include The Incredible Years, I Am Moving; I Am Learning, and, most recently, Providence Talks. To see a full list of current offerings, go to Seminars and Trainings. These courses are funded by the the Rhode Island Department of Human Services and several other sources.
A parent is of course a child’s first – and most important – teacher. We reach the families of young children through courses and events that demonstrate pleasurable activities parents can do at home to strengthen the school readiness of their children. As noted above, we’re bringing Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills to more than 2,000 parents and guardians with children Pre-K to Grade 3 in the Providence schools.
A pathway to higher education
As the state seeks to increase the credentials of early-care providers, it’s more important than ever that educators have an affordable and accessible pathway to higher education. In 2010, we became the Rhode Island home of T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®, a national project that awards scholarships to home and center-based professionals who are pursuing degrees or coursework in early childhood education.
In its three pre-kindergarten classrooms, R2LP works directly with young children. Each of these state-funded classrooms — one in Providence and two in Pawtucket — serves 18 children who are chosen by lottery. This project, administered by the R.I Department of Education, is demonstrating the impact of high-quality early-care education on a child’s future academic career.
R2LP has conducted rigorous evaluations of its own. With data gathered from our largest professional development programs, R2LP has shown that with training and mentoring, early-care providers become more effective teachers, and poverty need not prevent a child from starting school healthy and ready to learn. Children who have participated in R2LP programs outperform their peers (pdf) on standardized tests when they enter kindergarten, according to data provided by the Providence Public School Department. Thanks to the ongoing support of funders and partners, we are changing the outcomes of today’s children – and tomorrow’s adults.
In February 2017, Ready to Learn became a program of Roger Williams University as part of its School of Continuing Studies in Providence.
In 2015, we produced a booklet explaining in some detail what we do, what we’ve accomplished, and why it matters. You can see this publication as a view book below.