The Buffalo News

It wasn't fundraiser, but a "friendraiser" that drew together nearly 200 local educators, business and community leaders Thursday in an effort to improve student achievement in Buffalo.

The event, held in the Avant building downtown, was sponsored by Read to Succeed Buffalo, a nonprofit group dedicated to honing the literacy skills of preschoolers before they enter kindergarten. The organization is recruiting partners.

Anne S. Ryan, executive director, announced Thursday its strategic plan for the next five years, which includes a focus on early childhood literacy. "We know that 74 percent of children who are not reading on grade level by the end of third grade do not graduate," Ryan said.

Read to Succeed assists teachers in local Head Start programs, as well as home day care providers in preparing preschoolers for kindergarten, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"What we've found is, if those kids come to the school door already two years behind developmentally, they never catch up," Ryan said. "So we know that these kids need more explicit instruction and earlier. The great thing that we've found, particularly in our Bethel Head Start Early Reading First program, is that when parents learn how their child is learning . . . [and] they're shown individual accomplishments by their child, they embrace that."

Interim Buffalo School Superintendent Amber M. Dixon said the district and Read to Succeed share a mission.

"Part of what Read to Succeed is doing is trying to strengthen [the reading skills of] students who walk through our doors," Dixon said. "What they do is bring with them skills that we follow up with. They bring to us data that we then make use of to better target the needs of these students, and then we we follow through and try to measure the success."

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