Arizona Department of Education Awards $11.6 Million to Support Literacy Programs

May 12, 2022


Federal COVID relief funding will assist three organizations focused on literacy teaching and learning in Arizona

Office of Superintendent Kathy Hoffman

PHOENIX, Ariz. (May 12, 2022) – The Arizona Department of Education today announced targeted funding for literacy programs. “Helping a child learn to read is not just something I look forward to as a mother, but it is an obligation to our future that we must fulfill,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and new mom Kathy Hoffman. “Throughout the pandemic, my administration has been committed to improving literacy resources and support for Arizona’s children and these investments will help further that work.”

The funding will support:

  • Valley of the Sun United Way will receive $10 million for Project CALL: Collaborating to Accelerate Literacy and Learning. VSUW will work with Read on Arizona and other community partners to reduce learning loss and increase summer and out-of-school time learning for students and families by establishing state and community-level literacy hubs.
  • Arizona PBS Educational Outreach will receive $961,000 to implement PBS Kids Super WHY Camp, an early literacy, evidence-based pre-kindergarten summer school transition program for 4- and 5-year-old students with little or no preschool experience in targeted low-income communities.
  • Childsplay AZ will receive $602,000 for its EYEPlay program which prepares teachers to enrich literacy and language development for preschool students in preparation for their transition to kindergarten.

“Closing education opportunity gaps is fundamental for young children and their families to thrive,” said Carla Vargas Jasa, President, and CEO of Valley of the Sun United Way. “In support of our Mighty Change 2026 goal of increasing third grade reading proficiency by 25 percent, we’re grateful for the launch of Project CALL in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Education, Read on Arizona, and several Read On communities. This community-driven partnership will build and strengthen literacy resources across Arizona while increasing access to programs and services for families.”

“We are so grateful to the Arizona Department of Education for this grant award that will allow Arizona PBS to further increase its efforts to equip the state’s five-year old's with the educational and literacy skills needed to transition to kindergarten,” said Adrienne R. Fairwell, the station’s general manager. “Aligning with the most basic purpose of our organization, these efforts are achieved through interactive, fun, and engaging standards-aligned content through the PBS Kids Super WHY Camps, which aim to develop and build upon reading and vocabulary skills, thereby equipping early learners with the tools to be successful.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Arizona Department of Education to address learning loss with this proven strategy for developing language, literacy, and social-emotional skills with our youngest learners,” said Steve Martin, Managing Director of Childsplay AZ.

These investments build on previous work done by Superintendent Hoffman to strengthen early childhood literacy. In September 2020, the Department had been awarded a $20 million, 5-year Comprehensive Literacy State Development grant aimed at improving language and literacy skills for students most in need of additional support.

These projects are funded with dollars from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and are part of Arizona’s ARP School and Community Grantees. All funded projects share the goal of supporting schools, students, educators, and families as they recover from the effects of the pandemic.