Giving Compass' Take:

Linda Jacobson, writing for Education Dive, discusses the prominence of place-based early literacy programs, highlighting one called Discover Together, that will be starting its initiative in the neighborhood of Brownsville in Brooklyn.

This early literacy program is part of a broader effort to create more safe spaces and programming for young children in communities that don't otherwise have these shared spaces. How can donors help advance community development projects such as this one?

Read about the power of education data in early childhood learning.

Discover Together Grundy is a place-based, early literacy and family resilience initiative that aims to build stronger connections between families as they learn and share the stories that surround them. Through a parent co-op for young children, a summer camp and an after-school program, the children and their families begin to take pride in the place they call home.

“The residents are so eager to be involved in decision making and the allocation of resources in this community,” Kassa Belay, the co-director of collective impact at SCO Family of Services, a New York City social services agency, said in an interview. Belay co-directs United for Brownsville with David Harrington of Community Solutions, a nonprofit focusing on solutions to homelessness.

Now, the leaders of an early-childhood initiative in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, are hoping to bring those same experiences to families in an urban setting.

“It hits home to me when I hear families say, ‘I don’t have safe, supportive things to do in this community,’” said Harrington. The father of a toddler son, he described the “great networks” available to families in his Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope and said he hopes Discover Together will create similar connections for Brownsville families.

The curriculum is different than a typical literacy program in that children learn about themselves, their families and their community. Lessons in the series include themes such as “I can look and learn,” and “I can talk and listen.” In the after-school program, students learn photography and use the photos as part of their stories.

“What we’re talking about is redefining literacy — not just learning to read, but learning to tell stories,” Mayes said. “Learning is not just telling stories in isolation. We tell stories to others. Stories are about relationship. It’s a critical social skill.”

Read the full article about place-based early literacy programs by Linda Jacobson at Education Dive