The Crisis

Did you know that reading on grade-level by the end of the third grade is the most critical milestone on the road to college and a career? Yet every year, more than 8 out of 10 low-income children in New York City miss the milestone. On average, less than 1 out of 3 New York City public school children read on grade-level by third grade. NYC also has the lowest high school graduation rate for Black and Latino boys.

What’s at Stake?

Nearly 74% of students who fail to read proficiently by the end of third grade never graduate. Failure to graduate from high school has dire consequences for individuals, families, communities and society.


  • Improve elementary school success, focusing on increasing the number of children achieving proficiency in third grade
  • Expand middle school success
  • Increase high school graduation, college readiness and college completion rates for NYC public school students


If children cannot learn to read, how can they read to learn? Research shows that children who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers. And in neighborhoods like the South Bronx, as many as 9 out of 10 third grade students haven’t reached this crucial milestone of reading by third grade.

ReadNYC is UWNYC’s response to this crisis. In neighborhoods like Mott Haven and Brownsville, we are enveloping children, families, schools, and community partners with the resources to help children read. By 2020, UWNYC will work with local partners towards a shared goal to double the number of children reading at grade level by third grade in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty in New York City.



The 2014 New York City Self-Sufficiency Report shows that a critical driver of a family-supporting wage is education—80% of the people without a high school degree are living below the standard of self-sufficiency. In many of our city’s neighborhoods, students do not have the support they need to graduate high school and become financially secure. In Brownsville, one of New York City’s most challenged neighborhoods, 9 in 10 children cannot read at grade level and more than half of students are not graduating high school—these rates are among the lowest in the city.

EducateNYC, now in its second year, is UWNYC’s community schools initiative that’s creating lasting change in New York City. The strategy brings supports and services that are needed to remove barriers and help students succeed in school.