Founded in 1983 as a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, Reading In Motion has served more than 100,000 students. During our early years, we focused on teaching music, drama, and dance to young students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) from low-income households. Our instructors quickly noticed the struggle to read among those we were serving in the CPS district. By the mid 1990s, it became clear that literacy was our students’ biggest challenge, limiting not only their ability to participate in our then arts-focused curricula, but also their comprehension across academic subjects. After much research, experimentation, and expert consultation, in 2003 we turned our focus toward improving the literacy rates of elementary learners in CPS by offering a core-wraparound curriculum and instructional coaching for their teaching faculties. Soon after, we further concentrated our efforts on classroom literacy programming exclusively for students in PreK-1st grade. We made this move in response to our own experience in schools, bolstered by research indicating that a student's reading skills at the beginning of their academic years are highly predictive of a learner’s future literacy capability. More recently, we added 2nd and 3rd grade programming to meet the needs of students struggling as a result of pandemic-induced school closures and interruptions in learning, and in response to requests from our partner schools.
Since 2003, we have partnered with hundreds of schools in Chicago’s under-resourced neighborhoods on the south and west sides, training their teachers to deliver our engaging reading improvement curriculum in their classrooms. The results have been outstanding, with consistently more students mastering early literacy skills year after year at a rate higher than their peers without our services.
After observing comparatively similar societal circumstances and literacy rates among underserved students in Nevada’s Clark County, we piloted our curriculum in Las Vegas during the 2017-2018 school year and provided our unique instructional support to 18 teachers and 450 learners. We continue to serve in Clark County today. In 2020, we began a partnership with the Steans Family Foundation to implement our pre-kindergarten reading program in their early childhood centers. This year, we are delivering the program in five of their centers, and this partnership continues to explore new ways to expand our reach. Most recently, we began implementing services in Utah and Wisconsin by providing teachers with remote access to our arts-enriched core-wraparound literacy curriculum. Like their counterparts in Chicago and Las Vegas, these remote classrooms enjoy all the benefits of Reading In Motion programming, including but not limited to teaching materials, professional development, access to our expansive digital platform, and thirty-two weeks of bi-weekly coaching support. These educators diverge from their Chicago counterparts only in their utilization of 100% virtual coaching with our veteran coaching staff and their video-sharing of classroom activities.
Reading In Motion’s services have broadened substantially since its founding, and exponentially over the past three years. In 2020, we pivoted to meet the changing needs of educators and students during the pandemic. We began implementing new models and program components to provide more resources for today’s educators and students, including a virtual learning option that keeps students engaged regardless of environment.
Our current programs include:
As we look ahead through an informed and innovative perspective, Reading In Motion has defined ambitious goals to eliminate barriers, reach more students, and change lives. We recently established a five-year plan to expand into five new regions by 2027; significantly increase the number of students we serve; become a go-to professional development resource for early elementary educators and an early literacy instructional support system for parents and caregivers; commission longitudinal studies on our long-term program impact; and to develop and implement community-based volunteer programs to strengthen community engagement in early childhood literacy.