by Tracy Drury 

Read to Succeed Buffalo will receive $495,000 to support its early childhood literacy programs from the John R. Oishei Foundation

The foundation announced the three-year commitment today, aimed at boosting early learning opportunities to help decrease poverty and help individuals become self-sufficient.

Oishei Foundation President Robert Gioia called Read to Succeed one of the few programs in the community that is building a continuum of high quality literacy supports for children. 

"Research proves, and common sense dictates, the most effective investment we can make as a community is in high quality early childhood education," he said.  "What we have recently learned however, is we need to continue early learning supports right through age eight if we want our low-income students to succeed."

According to Read to Succeed Buffalo, 73 percent of third graders in Buffalo schools are not reading proficiently, based on state test outcomes.  The agency's programs work to expose children to literacy-rich experiences during their formative years to help them read at grade level by the end of third grade.

Last month, Read to Succeed was named among the agencies that will receive an allocation in 2013 and 2014 from the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County.  That grant will bring another $60,600 each year for its Community Action for Reading Excellence program.

The Oishei Foundation last year awarded the organization $115,000 in addition to prior grants in collaboration with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation.

Based in Buffalo, Read to Succeed operates on a budget of about $1.1 million.  Funding comes primarily through federal grants and private foundation support.