140,000 families in state have enrolled in Ready4K program

Published 11:29 am Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation and TDOE Partnership

reflects the Largest Statewide Rollout of Ready4K in U.S.


The Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF), in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), announced a statewide rollout of Ready4K, a research-based text messaging program to help parents support their students in learning at home. This marks the largest statewide rollout of the Ready4K program to date and this resource is being made available for free to Tennessee school districts by GELF and TDOE.

Through the Ready4K program, 140,000 families with pre-K through 3rd grade students across Tennessee will receive three weekly text messages with facts, easy tips, and activities on how to help each child learn and grow by building on existing family routines. Text messages match each child’s age, with simple, engaging facts and suggestions for building on existing daily routines, such as getting dressed, bath time, or preparing a meal.

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In Tennessee, parents in 86 school districts, 38 of which have voluntary pre-K programs participating, will begin receiving text messages today, January 11. For a full list of the school districts and voluntary pre-K programs participating in Ready4K, visit https://governorsfoundation.org/over-100000-families-across-tennessee-enrolled-in-ready4k-text-based-program/.

“Our day-to-day activities outside of the classroom create rich learning experiences that are free and easy to do,” said James Pond, president of GELF. “Together with TDOE, we are highlighting those opportunities in fun, accessible ways for parents and caregivers to incorporate into their daily routines, from getting dressed, to preparing a meal. Just as we deliver books directly to homes, delivering Ready4K texts directly to phones makes it as easy as possible for families to implement learning opportunities that can positively impact a child’s life.”

Ready4K is a part of the Tennessee Department of Education’s new $100 million literacy initiative, Reading 360, which will provide optional reading resources and supports for districts, teachers, and families to help students read on grade level by third grade.

While research shows reading proficiently by third grade is a critical milestone for students, only about one-third of Tennessee’s third graders were reading on grade level before COVID-19. In addition supporting teachers to help students learn to read in the classroom, supporting families to help teach children strong reading skills at home will help ensure Tennessee addresses its literacy challenge from all sides.

“In Tennessee, our goal is to ensure all students can develop into strong readers,” said Dr. Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner. “As a parent, I know this past year has been a stressful time, juggling work and home life while trying to ensure our children continue learning. We are proud to partner with the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation to launch Ready4K in Tennessee and provide this free, easy resource to help families support strong learning at home.”

The Ready4K text messages are aligned to Tennessee’s academic standards and focus on key areas like language and literacy, math and science, social and emotional learning, physical development, and health and safety. The Ready4K text messages intend to spark family conversations in English and Spanish and expand learning at home.

“Tennessee is taking a leadership role in providing families with accessible, evidence-based family engagement text messages to help foster child development and bridge the gap between home and school during a time of unprecedented challenges,” said Ben York, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Ready4K. “With more than 15 million children in the U.S. living without adequate internet access or devices, the use of texting addresses the country’s digital divide and enables even the hardest-to-reach parents to access high-quality information and resources for their children.”

Ready4K has the strongest evidence base in the field and the program is continuously being evaluated and improved through ongoing partnerships at Stanford, Brown and Notre Dame universities. The Ready4K approach has been shown to increase family engagement at home and school and increase child learning by 2-3 months over the course of a school year.

The widespread use of text messaging combined with its ease of use and short-message format is allowing school districts, educators and administrators to implement highly effective programs for the families they serve. In fact, nationally, research shows:

  • 97% of parents have mobile devices and 98% of those parents regularly send and receive text messages.
  • Text messages have a 98% open rate, compared with an open rate of 26% for education-related emails.
  • Adults from underserved communities typically use texting with the greatest frequency making the platform an effective way to help the hardest to reach families.
  • Overall, 96% of parents remained in the Ready4K program when automatically enrolled, compared with less than 10% of parents who signed up for the program when invited to enroll.

If any Tennessee public school district is interested, there will be future opportunities for districts to participate and can email Ready4K@governorsfoundation.org for additional information.

Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation serves as a thought leader, advisor and catalyst to strengthen early literacy in Tennessee by sustaining early literacy programs for children statewide. The Ready4K roll-out is a part of GELF’s broader Caregiver Engagement program to provide resources for caregivers to help children develop early literacy skills through reading and learning together. In addition to the Caregiver Engagement program, GELF also partners to provide a K-3 Book Delivery program in collaboration with Scholastic and a Birth-5 Book Delivery program through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library as well as Storybook Trails and Book Buses that deliver books and resources to children and families.

About Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF)

The mission of Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) is to strengthen early literacy in Tennessee by acting as a thought leader, advisor and catalyst to support and sustain early literacy programs for children statewide. These programs include Birth-5 Book Delivery through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Storybook Trails, Book Buses, K-3rd Grade Book Delivery and Caregiver Engagement. GELF was founded in 2004 by former Gov. Phil Bredesen as a public-private partnership to sustain Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee, giving all birth to age five children the opportunity to receive books in the mail at no cost to families. GELF has grown from solely a book-gifting program to an early literacy organization driven by a vision where all Tennessee children have access to the resources, guidance and support they need to become lifelong learners. For more information, visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org or www.facebook.com/GovEarlyLiteracyTN, or call toll-free at (877) 99-BOOKS.

About Ready4K

ParentPowered is a public benefit corporation that was established to pursue social impact by creating easy-to-use tools for great parenting to improve the lives of all children, regardless of means. In addition to the core Ready4K program, an evidence-based family engagement curriculum delivered via text messages geared toward children from birth through fourth grade, the company also offers Ready4K Trauma-Informed and Ready4K Personalized Learning. ParentPowered serves parents through partnerships with school districts, Head Starts and community, county, regional, state and national educational organizations, working to ensure equitable learning access to parents regardless of their economic situation. The company was founded in 2016 and is headquartered in San Mateo, California More information is available at www.ParentPowered.com and on social media: IG: @Ready_4K, Twitter: @Ready4K, FB: @Ready4K.