About Read to Succeed Buffalo

Read to Succeed Buffalo's mission is to mobilize the community to improve student achievement by creating a community-wide priority on literacy for children from birth to age eight. We focus on creating a comprehensive, high-quality early learning network that equips and challenges partners to support children in learning to read, enabling them to read to learn.


 2007 to 2016

Read to Succeed Buffalo (RTSB) has always believed that with exposure to high quality, intentional instruction, and literacy rich environments from birth through 3rd Grade, all children, regardless of economic or social challenges, can reach their highest potential.

RTSB's focus on improving quality and intentional literacy instruction began when, In 2007, it was awarded a highly-competitive four-year Early Reading First (ERF) grant of $4.1 million from the U.S. Department of Education (one of two awarded in the State of New York and one of 32 awarded nationally). The goal of ERF was to create Centers of Excellence for Four Year Olds. 

The ERF investment was a huge success in Buffalo Head Start programs, resulting in measurably improved Kindergarten readiness for more than 900 three- and four-year old children in the City of Buffalo.  [ERF Final Report]

But RTSB did not stop when the funding from the USDOE stopped. 

RTSB was determined to not only continue the literacy coaching work developed under ERF, but expand the model to more and younger children and their care givers in child care programs and to older students in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade. 

In 2011 RTSB worked with Buffalo Promise Neighborhood to ensure that the literacy coaching work developed under ERF, now recognized as the RTSB Literacy Coaching Program, continued to serve the children in the 14215 Promise Neighborhood.  This new partnership enabled RTSB literacy intervention specialists to continue their work with Head Start teachers and students. 

At about the same time RTSB began a partnership with United Way of Buffalo & Erie County to ensure that the literacy coaching model could continue its implementation in support of the quality improvement work in licensed family child care homes on Buffalo's east side.

There is much evidence showing RTSB's efforts in child care and Head Start/PreK were having statistically significant and positive effects on preschool children and teachers it was supporting with its evidence-based literacy coaching strategies and assessments.  However as Kristi Kauerz of the New America Foundation contends, systems cannot depend on high quality [preschool] as an inoculation against the multiple challenges facing young children in communities of poverty.

It would be hard to find anywhere else in the country to illustrate this point more clearly than Buffalo, NY.  In Buffalo, we see significant fade out as children move from Kindergarten through the early primary grades. District wide the percentage of children reaching proficiency on DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy) scores drops significantly from Kindergarten to 3rd grade - a nearly thirty percent drop among students in cohorts between 2008 - 2016. 

In the 2014-15 school year, 88 percent of Buffalo's 3rd graders were NOT reading with proficiency according to State English Language Arts (ELA) test scores.  Research tells us that if these students are from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and attend a school with high concentrations of other poor students, they are 13 times less likely to graduate high school with their more affluent peers. [Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters: A KIDS COUNT Special Report from the Annie E. Casie Foundation]

In response, RTSB, in partnership with Buffalo Promise Neighborhood, expanded its embedded coaching supports in 2012, providing comprehensive literacy and accountability structures in Buffalo Kindergarten through 3rd Grade classrooms, targeted at mitigating this trend of academic decline.  [CARE Elementary]

In 2012, his new continuum of evidence-based literacy coaching supports for teachers and the students they serve from birth through 3rd Grade became known as CARE - Community Alignment for Reading Excellence. 

Professional development for the practitioner working with economically disadvantaged students is the heart of CARE programing. RTSB literacy specialists provide intensive, embedded coaching supports for instructional staff, bridging the gap between what is known as effective practices (i.e., theory and science) and what is actually done (i.e., policy and practice). [Implementation Research: A synthesis of the Literature]

In 2012 RTSB also became the local affiliate for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.  With seed funding from the Buffalo Rotary Foundation, RTSB launched Imagination Library in the 14215 ZIP code. Imagination Library provides a new, age-appropriate book each month to registered children under the age of five.  This international program has been shown to increase school readiness among its long term participants

Despite tremendous support among teachers and significant improvement among students' oral language scores, in 2016 the federal funding for Promise Neighborhood went away and so did CARE Elementary in the Promise Neighborhood.  But again RTSB did not give up.

In 2016 RTSB is stronger than ever.  RTSB continues to focus on refining and perfecting its CARE evidence-based literacy coaching strategies and supports in Head Start, Prek, and child care settings while looking to continue its expansion of its proven coaching strategies into the early grades of public schools.

New funding partnerships have enabled Imagination Library to quadruple its service area, CARE Child Care to double its reach, CARE Preschool to partner with Holy Cross Head Start while continuing to support the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood Children's Academy by EduKids, and become one of only five communities in the nation to win an AARP Foundation Experience Corps Volunteer Tutoring grant in collaboration with the Corporation for National and Community Service Social Innovation Fund.

In his New Educational Bargain, Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash states that 90 percent of Buffalo students have some extra-ordinary need.  Read to Succeed Buffalo's mission has been, and will remain, laser focused on building the aligned continuum of high quality, evidence-based assessment and literacy practices proven to provide the level of support economically disadvantaged children need to present to school ready to learn and continue to build on that foundation and read with proficiency by the end of 3rd Grade.


Read to Succeed Buffalo is looking for volunteers aged 50+ to help tutor small groups in Buffalo Public Schools. Click here to learn more.


Parents have the power to give children a strong start in school. Click here for tips to help your child love reading!  Read more.

News Articles

Why Has Nothing Worked?

It has been well documented in many disciplines that major gaps exist between what is known as effective practices (i.e., theory and science) and what is actually done (i.e., policy and practice). 

Particularly in education, we have seen billions of dollars invested in everything from “turnaround models,” to  curricula, to testing.  Why has nothing worked?  Why hasn’t student performance improved?  Why haven’t the National Assessment of Education Progress test scores improved – in over 40 years?  This report by the National Implementation Research Network, gives an insightful account of how we invest in change and what is actually takes to create and manage lasting positive change.

Click here to read the National Implementation Research Network Report