As has been widely reported, the results of the first Nation’s Report Card since the pandemic began were sobering. After years of disrupted learning, average reading proficiency scores for 9-year-olds plunged to their lowest level in over 30 years. While students across all demographics were impacted, the steepest declines were measured among students from historically under-resourced backgrounds. 

At the Children’s Literacy Foundation, our work focuses on serving Vermont and New Hampshire children at highest risk of growing up with low literacy skills. It’s never been more important to ensure all kids in our communities have equitable access to enriching literacy experiences and resources. CLiF’s programs serve children in shelters and affordable housing; refugee, foster, and migrant children; children in rural areas; children of incarcerated adults; children scoring below standard in schools; and many others. 

Why is it so important to support early literacy? Low literacy rates are directly linked to adverse future outcomes. Research shows that children who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Their risk of future incarceration skyrockets, and their future lifetime earning potential plummets. Adults with low literacy skills are significantly more likely to suffer poor mental and physical health consequences. The list goes on. 

CLiF’s mission is to help inspire a love of reading and writing among under-resourced children across the Twin States. Each year, thousands of kids aged 0 to 12 years attend fun and interactive events hosted by the many professional authors, illustrators, poets and storytellers who present on CLiF’s behalf. At the close of every CLiF event, each child in attendance picks out books to keep for themself. These in-person encounters and book giveaways make a powerful and memorable impact on young readers and writers. 

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For coming to our school it was really fun. I cannot word how much I thank you but here it is: I really spectacularly sparkle fun time purple lollipop with a cherry on top, that’s how much I thank you for the very fun time!” 

“Thank you for coming to our school, and letting us take some books hom. Normaly I would not want to read a book like the one you read, but the way you read makes me feel like I’m there. I loved the book you read. Thank you for giving us the grant. I’m so happy we get new books.” 

Since CLiF’s founding in 1998, we have served over 350,000 children, and given away over $10 million in new, high-quality children’s books. We’ve partnered with over 90 percent of the rural libraries in Vermont and New Hampshire towns with populations under 5,000, helping to increase circulation and build community around literacy. We’ve worked with correctional facilities to provide incarcerated men and women with literacy seminars and help them stay connected to their children through stories. And we’re just getting started. 

CLiF is a community-supported organization, whose work is made possible solely through the generosity of our network of donors. Unlike most nonprofits, we do not receive any state or federal funds. To learn about the many different ways to help support young readers in Vermont and New Hampshire, please click here. For additional information, please email CLiF Executive Director Duncan McDougall at To view open grant opportunities, please click here.

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CLiF has served over 350,000 children since 1998.

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