While many of us have heard of the impact of the “academic achievement gap” or “opportunity gap”, fewer know about the “literacy gap” plaguing schools across the nation.
The literacy gap is the difference in literacy for students from various backgrounds, with students from middle-class or suburban backgrounds reading at higher levels than students from low-income, urban, or rural backgrounds.
According to the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), 1 out of 6 students who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers. Children struggle to read even higher for students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and students in rural areas that this stat provides.
Seeing the effects of the literacy gap first hand is what drove the inception of Pennez, a company whose goal is to provide tools and resources for parents, educators and students to combat reading aloud and struggling readers in their homes and classrooms.
Founded by a former educator, Pennez aims to close the illiteracy gap through software and online programming for students in grades Kindegarten through Eightth Grade.
Pennez’s vision is to restore the reading outcomes for learners so that youth can read to think. By offering products and services to reduce the literacy gap for youth and providing content written by and about people of color, Pennez reaches students where they are at, and provides opportunities for students to not only interact with literature through reading, but through community building.
Pennez also aims to engage the community, through programming for students. By incorporating stories focused on diverse characters and topics, Activities are implemented to reinforce story concepts. Trained educators, writers, and authors facilitate book discussion, as well as modeling reading behavior.
Additional opportunities to build community and reach families and students is done through Pennez’s storytelling events. These events celebrate the spoken arts to emulate for youth the different ways to engage with literature: by listening, speaking, and reading. A variety of artists share their stories in their own way, and allow youth to connect with creative members of their community.
Pennez cares about children’s literacy skills. And by leading conversations about the impact of literacy on a child’s education and long-term achievement, we hope you care too.
As a former elementary educator and professor, I started Pennez to address illiteracy and lack of stories written by and about people of color. K-12 readers need more accessibility to more resources so that they will be more engaged to read. Every time I review this stat, 65% of youth are at least 1 or 2 grade levels behind in 3rd grade reading, and 10% of our stories are written by and about people of color, I knew that we could do something. I know that as a community & nation we have to do better. Our web application is under construction. However, to ensure that we are connecting with youth, educators, and families, we provide a host of services to address your child’s literacy needs.
Our team of Wordsmiths (Writers, Authors, Poets, Storytellers, or Comedians) deliver programming for our readers. We are always searching for engaged individuals who can work with us and host programs. If interested, please complete the form.