Read to Lead learning games develop the literacy, life and career skills students need to succeed in school and beyond.
Read to Lead
Literacy is the foundation of all learning and necessary for an informed citizenry and personal well being. Yet today, literacy—reading, writing, critical thinking and using information to make informed decisions—remains an unattainable goal for far too many of our nation’s youth. The consequences are severe: without core literacy skills, students are far less likely to graduate high school, attend college, and enter the workforce prepared to thrive in the 21st century economy.
Classroom, Inc. is the only organization that uses a proven game-based learning model to give educators the tools they need to develop their students' literacy, life, and career skills.
Our newest solution is Read to Lead.
The Read to Lead program uses innovative next generation learning game technology to address three of the most intractable challenges facing low-income and minority students: low literacy levels - 80% of 8th grade students living in poverty read at least two levels below grade level (NEAP, 2017); disengagement - decline in student engagement starting in middle school is linked to low academic achievement, low literacy levels, and higher drop-out rates (Gallup, 2014); and, lack of 21st century skills - over one-half of new entrants into the U.S. workforce are ill-prepared in problem-solving, critical thinking, leadership and collaboration (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2018).
Read to Lead addresses these challenges directly by leveraging the power of digital gaming to give educators a hook to engage their hardest to reach students, and provide a unique context for social, emotional, and leadership development. Students must use reading and writing skills, solve complex real-world problems, and collaborate with their peers in order to advance through the games. As they do, they envision their future careers, build aspirations, and set personal goals.
The impact of Read to Lead is transformative:
More than twice as many students who started the school year at the lowest reading proficiency level jumped a level on the New York State ELA Exam (2017).
Students improved in reading ability, with statistically significant gains above the national norm, gaining 3 months in reading performance over the course of their summer Read to Lead program (RLI, 2016).
Student reading gains exceeded expectations by 60%, enabling students who began the school year below grade level to finish above grade level (Metis Associates study, 2015).
Students improved on key writing skills that were transferable out of the game (Gates Foundation funded SRI International study, 2015).
Over 95% of students showed improvement in reading attitudes and behaviors and increases in 21st century life and career skills (Educator & student surveys, 2015; 2016; 2017).
Through our leading-edge platform, designed in close collaboration with educators at our partner sites, we are presently reaching students in 3,156 cities in 83 countries. In addition to the games, the platform makes our curriculum, lesson and project plans, and customized educator professional development freely available, 24/7. As we continue to innovate the platform, we will be able to bring our proven Read to Lead solution to millions more around the world.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:New York, NY, USA
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
What makes our solution innovative:
Read to Lead uses new technology to create an immersive role-playing game-based experience connecting literacy and 21st century skills. The Read to Lead learning games and resources are accessible online 24/7 through our unique, best-in-class digital platform. The modular architecture and pervasive APIs of the platform allows for rapid integration of educator and student features to create the best personalized learning experiences - for example, text-to-speech to support ELLs.
Read to Lead is the only technology program that helps middle school students in low-income communities simultaneously develop the literacy, life, and career skills needed to succeed in school and beyond.
How technology is integral to our solution:
Read to Lead combines two technology components:
- Digital gaming that situates students as the boss in virtual workplace settings, where they complete a variety of tasks as they develop their reading and 21st century skills. The games deeply engage and scaffold students in their learning, and provide real-time data to educators to adapt instruction for individual student needs.
- A digital platform that delivers games, data dashboards, curriculum, resources, and customized support to educators, 24/7, in one central, easy-to-access location, providing educators with all the tools they need to create highly personalized learning experiences for their students.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
With our proven Read to Lead approach, we now have the potential to reach educators and students on a scale not previously possible. Our overall goal is to accelerate user adoption among educators in high need communities nationwide, so that we can scale our impact to 65,000 students. To achieve this goal, we will develop a comprehensive marketing plan to reach educators who teach in school day, afterschool and summer learning programs. We are also focussed on enhancing platform functionality and program features to make it even easier for educators to use Read to Lead in diverse learning contexts.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
Read to Lead will transform the lives of 1,000,000 struggling readers in low income communities by improving their literacy and 21st century skills. We will do this by:
a) becoming the go-to solution for out of school time learning;
b) creating a global network of digital Read to Lead users;
c) expanding the Read to Lead product portfolio and program features to serve diverse educator and student needs; and
d) creating mobile apps that allow students to extend the Read to Lead experience to home.
Our promotional video:
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
With the digital platform, all it takes is a few clicks for educators to register for Read to Lead and instantly access our award-winning games, instructional resources, student data dashboards, and direct support.
We plan on extending Read to Lead to mobile, so that students can continue to read and problem solve at home, while sharing “world of work” accomplishments with their families.
Through distribution partners, Amazon Inspire, BrainPOP GameUp, Edmodo Spotlight, Share My Lesson, we reach educators globally. We also work with national organizations (After-School All-Stars) and educational agencies (California DOE) to engage educators in the most impoverished communities.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
This year, Read to Lead is being used by 5,160 educators and 33,600 students in impoverished communities throughout the United States, including those we serve through our partnerships with schools and community organizations in New York, Newark, Bridgeport, Chicago, Palm Beach County, Birmingham, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles, and those we reach directly through our digital platform and distribution partners (Amazon Inspire, BrainPOP GameUp, Edmodo Spotlight, and Share My Lesson).
Read to Lead is a game changer for these students, offering them the opportunity to develop the reading and 21st century skills for success in school, career and life.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
The total number of students we expect to serve in 12 months is 65,000; in 3 years, 200,000.
The students we serve attend the most under-resourced schools in country’s poorest communities. Almost 100% of them qualify for free or reduced price school meals. Over 80% are struggling readers, reading below grade level, and at high risk for academic failure. Through their interactions with Read to Lead, these older struggling students experience success through reading and writing, understand the connection between school and their futures, are encouraged to believe in themselves, and empowered to take charge of their learning.
How our solution team is organized:Non-Profit
How many people work on our solution team:20+
How many years we have been working on our solution:3-4 years
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
President Lisa Holton, a pioneer in digital media, with 25 years of experience in literacy and digital publishing, leads our innovative approach to literacy.
Christina Oliver, VP and Chief Program Officer leads our learning programs and partnership strategy, with over ten years of experience designing programs connecting school to career.
Benjamin Robinson, VP of Digital Strategy, who designed the platform and simple AI for iMentor, oversees product development including and digital product delivery direct to educators, students, and parents.
Hee Jin Bang, Director of Research, applies her expertise in usability research and decision-making science, to the evaluation of our programs.
Our revenue model:
Our primary source of revenue is philanthropic donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations, which provide funding for product development and innovation, ongoing operations, and partnerships with schools and organizations in high need communities.
Through our new learning platform, Read to Lead games and resources are currently offered free of charge to educators across the country, lowering the barrier to adoption as we establish a broader national presence. Going forward, we are exploring opportunities for monetization, including earned revenue from professional development services, content distribution, and premium platform features.
In addition, we will dramatically lower our average cost per student served by delivering more of our resources and support through virtual and train the trainer models, enabling us to significantly increase the number of students served without a corresponding increase in expenses.
Why we are applying to Solve:
Through the Solve Award, we would hope to
- gain additional expertise in accelerating user adoption among educators in high need communities;
- connect and develop partnerships with people and organizations leading efforts to prepare students for successful futures;
- increase traction with new funding sources; and
- refine our business model for long term sustainability.
The key barriers for our solution:
As we scale Read to Lead to deliver our proven solution to millions of disadvantaged students, our biggest challenge is to secure the funding required to invest in the continual improvement of our cutting-edge technology and the expansion of our outreach to educators, so that Read to Lead can continue to be the game changer these students deserve.
Solve would amplify our work with educators to create high quality personalized learning for their students with the power of transformative technology. We would also gain additional expertise to reach more educators in high-need communities and increase traction with new funding sources.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers:
Lisa Holton President, Classroom, Inc.