In 2015, the percentage of NYC students in grades 3-8 achieving a “proficient” (passing) score on the English Language Arts test was 30.4%. The percentages of Black and Hispanic students scoring at the proficiency level in ELA were 19.0 and 19.8 percent, respectively. In 2016, the scores jumped to 38% overall, with Black and Hispanic students improving to 26.5% and 27.2%. This improvement indicates that while overall proficiency levels may be improving, the lagging achievement levels of students of color remains a critical issue in education today.
Many of the efforts to close this significant “achievement gap” have been properly focused on early childhood education. That focus ignores that urban, low income students, particularly students of color from underserved urban neighborhoods, enter 9th grade well behind their more affluent classmates. As a result, they struggle to reach “college readiness”, hampering their ability to matriculate to, and more importantly, to remain enrolled and succeed in college and beyond.
The Foundation for Letters does not believe that it is “too late” once a student has reached high school with a pre-existing college readiness deficit. FFL is working to close that gap by providing opportunities for urban high school students to write, which would not be available to them without access to otherwise unreachable resources.
Our Strategy is focused on immersing students in the written and spoken word. We believe that increased fluency can lead to improved academic performance, increased college readiness, and better global citizenship. FFL raises private funds, creates partnerships and manages a growing volunteer network that helps design and implement programs that focus urban high school students on writing more, writing better, and expressing themselves. By focusing our resources where they are needed most, FFL works to close this gap in high school educational achievement.
FFL works with a broad network of experienced writers, educators, literary professionals and other committed volunteers, all of whom earn a living using words. Our individual, corporate, and not-for-profit partners share our literacy-based educational vision or our belief in the value an external support network can bring to an urban school.