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Congress Restores Funding for Literacy Programs

Competitive Grant Program Aimed to Serve Students in Need Nationwide

Washington, DC—December 16, 2011—Funding for national literacy programs was included in the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012, which will be signed into law by President Obama later today. The $28 million will be awarded to literacy organizations and libraries through a competitive grant process.

“RIF is grateful for Congress’ hard work in restoring funding for books and literacy resources for children in need. With only 1 in 300 children in poor neighborhoods owning a book and reading levels among young children stagnant and declining, access to print is more critical than ever,” said Carol Rasco, President and CEO of Reading is Fundamental. “We look forward to working with the Department of Education as details of the competition are finalized.”

According to the Census, the national poverty rate increased from 14.3 percent to 15.3 percent, or by roughly 4 million people. Research shows that quality education ends the cycle of poverty. Children of poor families are six times more likely to drop out of school then children in wealthy families. In coordination with that, minority children from urban areas are less likely to graduate than their white suburban counterparts. Many students who receive books from RIF would not have access to books in their home otherwise. Sixty-one percent of low income families have zero books in their households. Moreover, research has also shown that owning a book of their choice improves student outcomes.

The cost of illiteracy for businesses and taxpayers is estimated at $20 billion. RIF costs taxpayers only $0.08 per year to provide literacy resources to millions of children. RIF is a prime example of an effective and efficient public-private partnership that creates a return on federal investment, operating a program valued at $150 million in all fifty states and territories with only $25 million in federal support. In 2010, RIF distributed 15 million books to 4 million children nationwide. More than 400,000 volunteers from Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs and other partners in every state contribute 25 percent of the organization’s funding. Without federal support, a large national program, one that has distributed almost 400 million books since 1966, will begin to break down.

About Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF),
Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), founded in 1966, motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF’s highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provided 4 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources last year. For more information and to access reading resources, visit RIF’s website at www.rif.org.

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Congress Restores Funding for Literacy Programs