Experts say illiteracy is a growing problem across the county, particularly in poverty stricken areas. YNN's Cara Thomas tells us how one campaign is working to make a difference in young students.
ROME, N.Y. -- Fifty-three percent of third grade students in Herkimer and Oneida Counties are not reading at the appropriate level.
"It's a shocking statistic, but it's not an uncommon statistic. What we find are kids of color and poor kids are not reading by the third grade," said Patrick Corvington, Senior Fellow of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Experts said it's a problem that many people sweep under the rug. However, when a child isn't reading proficiently, it sets them up for failure later on in life.
Lara Sepanski Pimentel, Executive Director of the Literacy Coalition of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, said, "There's another really strong relationship between third grade reading and high school completion, and you can just imagine what the consequences are if you don't complete high school."
"We think that this notion of trying to get kids to read by third grade is one of the best ways of breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty," said Corvington.
In a battle against illiteracy, not-profit organizations, schools, and communities are joining together in a national effort called the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. There are 135 communities throughout the nation that have joined the campaign. On Tuesday, Rome and Dolgeville joined the campaign.
The goals of this campaign can't only be achieved within the walls of a school. Campaign leaders say the community needs to be involved.
Corvington said, "Individuals in particular can do something very simple which is to volunteer. Just go into schools, volunteer in programs and start tutoring kids and helping them read."
"October 28th we'll be receiving probably around 35,000 books through Duffy Books IN Home USA that will be distributed to the community to Rome, Dolgeville and other districts to combat summer learning loss," said Pimentel
By 2020, the campaign's goal is to increase by at least 100 percent the number of children from low-income homes reading proficiently by the end of third grade. By then, hopefully Herkimer and Oneida Counties will have a different statistic they can be proud of.
The Literacy Coalition and the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties are spearheading the campaign in the Mohawk Valley area.
For more information, head to gradelevelreading.net.