El Paso Community Foundation in its initial First Steps to Reading project. Modeled from the national Born to Read Program and the Born to Read Program in San Antonio, First Steps to Reading, a pilot program, will deliver high-quality bilingual “early concept” books to newborn babies and their parents before they leave the hospital. Books will be distributed at Sierra Providence East Medical Center in El Paso and at Hospital de la Familia in La Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. “The El Paso Community Foundation is proud to provide access to literacy by building home libraries which encourage reading from birth to adulthood,” said Eric Pearson, president of the El Paso Community Foundation.
The program’s goal is to improve literacy rates in the El Paso community through ongoing, targeted interventions aimed at children and their parents. By several measures, El Paso lags behind the country in adult literacy rates. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy estimated that 36% of El Paso County residents lacked basic literacy skills in English. The state average is 23%. A separate study, America’s Most Literate Cities, ranks El Paso 69th out of 75 cities in the literacy resources that it affords its citizens.
“We are delighted to support this literacy program in its inception,” said Johnny Byrd, managing editor of Cinco Puntos Press. “El Paso and our region is a bilingual community, and we believe our bilingual books—rooted like they are in the first-hand experience of both languages—can be used as an antidote to the problems of literacy here.”
In its first year, the program will deliver 4,200 books to newly born children and their parents at the selected hospitals. The three books selected are from the Cinco Puntos bilingual series “Early Concepts in Mexican Folk Art” by Cynthia Weill in collaboration with three different groups of Oaxaca artisans: Opuestos, Abecedarios and Colores.
The El Paso Community Foundation has granted $20,000 for First Steps to Reading, and is encouraging other funding partners—corporate or individual—to contribute. For more information contact the Foundation via epcf.org.
|FEMAP staff Alejando and Vicente|
pick up books at Cinco Puntos to take to Juárez
|EPCF President Eric Pearson and CPP Managing Editor Johnny Byrd|
at presentation of books to staff at Sierra Providence Medical Center
|These are some of the Sierra Providence staff who will be handing|
parents and children the First Steps to Reading books!