Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers.

By focusing on parent education, Literacy Partners is closing the achievement gap among low-income and immigrant children. We provide an immersive, research-backed experience in English-language learning that combines basic literacy or high school equivalency education, imparting the skills parents need to promote their children’s language and social-emotional development. All of our classes are taught by full-time professional educators, augmented by volunteers who lead extracurricular discussion groups and provide one-on-one tutoring.

Unlike typical literacy classes, our parent education classes meet 10 to 12 hours a week throughout a 36-week academic year. This level of intensity is how 80% of our parent-students advance to the next academic level each year.

Understanding that having books at home is highly correlated to early-reading success and school readiness, we partner with major publishers to provide free children’s books to all of our student families. These donations allow low-income parents (who are significantly less likely than middle-class parents to have home libraries) to have their own collections of at least 10 books for each child. In class, we coach parents to develop the skills and habit of reading to their children regularly, instilling in them a lifelong love of books and literacy and increasing their chances for success in school. We call this program “Books of Their Own.”

In addition to emphasizing family conversation and reading, our classes convey the literacy and language skills and confidence that students need to navigate New York City’s subways, schools, banks, and health care system. Teachers coach parents through the process of obtaining library cards, email accounts, government identification, health insurance, and using the internet so that they can have access to the full range of information needed to succeed as parents, workers, and members of the community.