The Lee Institute
Case Studies

Third Grade Reading Task Force

Public Engagement Community Task Forces Facilitation

Task Force Commits to Boosting Reading for Charlotte Children

Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s corporate, government, nonprofit and philanthropic leaders mobilized in 2014 to address a crisis in reading: Only 40% of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s third-graders are reading at grade level, despite third-grade tests being strong indicators of both high school graduation and college attendance rates.

Convened by the Belk Foundation and designed and facilitated by the Lee Institute, the Third Grade Reading (3GR) Task Force met five times in 2014 to review key research and to define the goal, scope and pillars of a community-wide collective impact effort around early childhood literacy. The Lee team hosted focus groups with teachers and principals, with low-income parents of young school-aged children, including bilingual parents, and with leadership of nonprofit agencies.

An important component of our Third Grade Reading design process was listening to the community. As part of their project management work, The Lee Institute organized and facilitated conversations with over 100 service providers, families and educators. Without this feedback, we might have lost important nuances and points of view that informed our plans.
— Johanna Anderson, Executive Director, The Belk Foundation

The 3GR Task Force led directly to the creation of the new Read Charlotte nonprofit, which will coordinate the efforts of dozens of agencies, corporations, foundations and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to double reading proficiency by the year 2025. To date, local donors have pledged more than $5 million to Read Charlotte, which recently hired its founding executive director. We will be cheering their progress as they begin their work this year.

To learn more about Read Charlotte, please visit