The Problem

Negative Effects of Illiteracy

89% of Children in Houston do not attend a Pre-Kindergarten program.

41% of Houston children failed to meet "Kindergarten Ready" requirements.

Only 27% of Houston 3rd Graders are reading on grade level.

Students not reading on grade level by the 3rd Grade are 4 times more likely not to graduate from High School.

High School dropouts are not eligible for 90% of new jobs.

85% of children who interface with the Juvenile Justice System are functionally illiterate.

79% of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a 4th grade level.

Houston we have a crisis!

73% of Houston Third Graders are not reading on grade level.
Research indicates the road to incarceration begins as early as kindergarten, linking reading difficulties with severe behavior problems. Low literacy is proven to be a significant factor for almost all social ills, including crime rates, dropout rates, joblessness, and homelessness.


of children in Houston do not attend a Head Start or pre-kindergarten program6

Children who do not read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade have only a 1 in 8 chance of ever catching up and are 4 times more likely to drop out of school7


of youth who interface with the juvenile justice system are functionally illiterate8

Only 14% of Houston highschool students are 'College Ready'9

1 in 3 Houston adults is functionally illiterate.b

70% of inmates in American prisons cannot read above a 4th grade level.c

a-c: Baker, et al. (2013). Houston's Literacy Crisis: A Blueprint for Community Action.

1 Texas Education Agency (2019), 2018-19 School Report Card.

2 Children's Defense Fund-Texas (2015), New Census Data Show Texas Leaving More Children in Poverty Than Any Other State, Except California.

3 Texas Education Agency (2019), STARR Aggregate Data for 2018-19.

4 The Annie E. Casey Foundation (2012), Double Jeopardy: How Poverty & Third-Grade Reading Skills Influence High School Graduation.

5 American Federation of Teacher (2003), The Early Catastrophe The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3 - by University of Kansas researchers Betty Har and Todd R. Risley.

6 TPIER Texas Education Agency (2019), Texas Public Prekindergarten Programs and Enrollment Ages 3 and 4.

7 Zickuhr, Kathryn and Lee, Rainie (2014), Pew Research Center, A Snapshot of Reading in America in 2013.

8 The Register-Herald (2014), Functional illiteracy continues to grow, but there is help - by John Blankenship.

9 Texas Education Agency (2017), Texas Academic Performance Report 2016-17.