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Mar 31, 2022

We recorded today's conversation at Literacy Volunteers Winchester Area with their Executive Director Andy Gail and Matt Peterson, Director at the John & Janice Wyatt Foundation.

Matt told us a bit about the Wyatt Foundation and their long-term goals to support children and their families in our communities. The John & Janice Wyatt Foundation is a 501c(3) non-profit, grantmaking family foundation established in July 2018 is focused on creating equity and leveling the playing field for socially and economically disadvantaged children and youth in our geographic service area. With an emphasis on early childhood education through middle school, their goal is to help these children stay engaged and become successful, active citizens in today’s rapidly evolving world.

Matt explained the Campaign for Grade Level Reading that they recently kicked off in Winchester through a grant partnership with Literacy Volunteers Winchester Area.

Andy gave us some staggering statistics for the number of adults in our community who struggle with reading and talked about the impact starting with younger children will have on those adult numbers.

The Campaign for Grade Level Reading is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. It focuses on an important predictor of school success and high school graduation—grade-level reading by the end of third grade.

Goals of the Campaign:

Winchester’s overarching vision is to increase the percentage of 3rd graders reading at or above the proficient level from 52% to at least 75% in the next 10 years based on the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) ELA assessment.

The team will work in three workgroups to improve:

School Readiness

By 2025, increase the number of children ready for kindergarten by at least twenty percentage points. We envision moving from 67% (2019 -2020) to at least 80% of children being ready based on their performance on the PALS-K.

School Attendance

Reduce chronic absenteeism and achieve rates at or below 10% among K-3rd graders at all four elementary schools by 2025.

Summer and Afterschool Learning

Increase by 100% the number of K-3rd grade students who have access to summer and afterschool opportunities that focus on literacy-related learning and enrichment.

For more information about how you can help them achieve these goals, visit their website:

Andy also told us about their partnership with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library that will provide monthly books to all children living in zip code 22601 under the age of 5. Get details for that here:

We also talked about the local StoryWalks and Winchester Little Libraries that will be placed at over 13 pocket parks throughout the city.

Learn more about the Wyatt Foundation here: and find details about Literacy Volunteers Winchester Area on their website: and follow them on Facebook.