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.
As a key partner in the state’s Center for Early Learning Professionals, many Ready to Learn staff members work full time planning, developing and providing the training and technical assistance offered through the center.
“Schooling after the second grade plays only a minor role in creating or reducing gaps…We should invest in the foundation of school readiness from birth to age 5.”
Nobel-Prize winning economist
- We have trained more than 3,500 early childhood educators
- These educators teach hundreds of young children every year
- Children participating in R2LP programs outperform their peers
Beyond our work with the Center, we offer a number of professional development courses to educators as often as funding allows, such as The Incredible Years, I Am Moving; I Am Learning, and, most recently, Providence Talks.
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. With money from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund and other sources, we are currently bringing Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills to more than 2,000 families (and nearly 1,000 school staff) in Providence.
Since 2005, R2LP has operated the state’s largest AmeriCorps program. After nearly a month of intensive training, the 14 members serve in child-care centers or in our family engagement program in the Providence elementary schools. More than half of our members pursue careers with young children after completing their service.
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 conducts 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 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.