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City’s First Readers (CFR) Advocates for Essential Early Literacy Support

Dear Speaker Johnson & Council Members Dromm, Levine, Treyger:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Council's early literacy initiative, City’s First Readers (CFR). For six years, CFR has been a critical initiative that has supported millions of families and served every single council district. Everyone loves to support this initiative because the work of CFR is impactful and joyful. What CFR partners have always known, however, is that our work is more than this. Our work is essential.

As you develop the FY21 budget, the path forward must include an investment in programs that vulnerable children birth-five require to thrive right now and beyond this pandemic. No single organization by itself can change the educational course for low income children. The Council recognized the power of collaboration when it created this initiative; as a group, CFR partners make an impact and must be funded to continue this critical work.  

CFR partners have not slowed down in the face of coronavirus. We continue to collaborate and weave together comprehensive services that empower caregivers with the tools and resources they need. I am amazed and inspired by how every organization in this Council initiative has mobilized and responded to ensure that NYC’s youngest children are not forgotten right now.  

  • Online learning is being offered by 11 partners to help parents support their emerging readers.

  • To limit screen time and ensure babies and toddlers are engaging with age-appropriate sensory toys, 3 partners are distributing books and literacy kits to families.

  • Fighting against the digital divide, 2 partners are delivering computers and offering training to families so that they can access the wealth of resources available online.

  • Basic health and safety supplies are being disseminated to family day care providers who are absorbing new families as traditional day care centers are shuttered.

  • Coaching and support is happening remotely, delivered by 3 partners to ensure that even in the face of incredible stress, parents have the tools they need to bond with and support their children.

New York City’s youngest and most vulnerable children have not been forgotten by the City’s First Readers partners. In the face of compelling short-term needs, we hope the Council will continue to recognize the benefit of its long-term investment in early literacy.

Shari Levine

Executive Director

PS LINC as the backbone partner for the New York City Council’s early literacy initiative, City’s First Readers, we are leading a collaboration to adapt its public awareness campaign “Read The City” to our new circumstances. I will be in touch with updates on that effort shortly.


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