Welcome to The Re(a)d Zone

Today, the 50 Fund – the legacy fund of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee – introduced “The Re(a)d Zone,” a signature initiative focused on investing in, strengthening and building the capacity of high-quality, literacy-enhancing programs that increase third grade reading proficiency throughout the Bay Area.

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“In addition to 50 Fund’s grant programs, we are launching The Re(a)d Zone to address an issue that is at the heart of the opportunity gap for low-income Bay Area children,” said Jason Trimiew, VP of Community Relations for the Host Committee. “We want to build upon innovative and effective early literacy work already happening in the Bay Area, and use Super Bowl 50 as a catalyst to put our region on a path to having the highest percentage of low-income kids that are proficient readers by 2020.”

A 14-month early literacy initiative, The Re(a)d Zone will reach more than 50,000 low-income Bay Area children through a number of high-quality literacy-enhancing programs beginning this summer and continuing beyond Super Bowl 50 to summer 2016.

In partnership with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Bay Area Campaigns for Grade-Level Reading, campaigns like Summer Matters, and organizations such as the California Library Association and Pacific Library Partnership, The Re(a)d Zone will invest in programs that help struggling readers to catch up, marginally proficient readers to avoid the “summer slide,” and give low-income children across the region—prioritizing children in public housing—access to books, reading programs and early literacy support.

The Re(a)d Zone is also benefitting from a $250,000 investment from Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy—the philanthropic initiative of two-time Super Bowl champion and Raiders all-pro defensive end, Justin Tuck and his wife, Lauran—to provide books through First Book, Imagination Library, Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® campaign and myON. myON will provide free access to the world’s largest interactive digital library for all Bay Area children and families during Summer 2015, and partner with Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy to provide selected districts with subscriptions to the myON personalized literacy environment in Fall of 2015.

“The Re(a)d Zone has the potential to provide a more hopeful future for Bay Area’s struggling and striving young readers,” said Ralph Smith, Managing Director for the Campaign Grade-Level Reading, a core sponsor of The Re(a)d Zone. “The 50 Fund’s early literacy initiative is a bold step forward and already is on its way to becoming a national model.” 

Starting in Summer 2015, the 50 Fund will provide financial support to summer book clubs, libraries and communities initiatives to enhance and expand existing reading programs. Some of the key investments include:

  • $100,000 as a $1:$1 match to provide new, high-quality books from First Book to support Bay Area summer literacy programs serving children in need
  • $250,000 to strengthen summer reading programs at Bay Area libraries, including the One Million Readers Challenge, Lunch at the Library and The Great Reading Adventure, and provide access to online literacy supports like Smarty Ants and com.
  • $350,000 for community initiatives in the greater Bay Area region (including Monterey, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz counties) to strengthen and/or integrate early literacy into existing summer programs.

In addition to the direct and measurable impact on children and families, The Re(a)d Zone will work to raise public awareness and mobilize action. Through an awareness campaign launching later this year, The Re(a)d Zone will aim to engage 50,000 “literacy champions” as volunteer tutors, book donors, and early literacy advocates. The initiative will take advantage of national literacy “moments” like National Summer Learning Day (June), Attendance Awareness Month (September), Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® and Read Aloud 15 MINUTES (October) and Family Literacy Month (November) to raise awareness of this critical issue and build momentum toward an early literacy summit planned for Super Bowl Week.

“We want to use the megaphone of Super Bowl 50 to make the case to Bay Area residents that early literacy is an issue where everyone can get involved,” said Kamba Tshionyi, Chair of the 50 Fund. “With our partners, we are confident this effort will change much more than just summers; it will change lives.”

According to the National Summer Learning Association: “A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year…. It’s common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills.”