Read Charlotte

Charlotte, NC


More than half of all 3rd graders in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools are not reading at grade level.


Double the number of Charlotte’s 3rd graders reading at grade level from 40% to 80% by 2025.


Read Charlotte is leading a community-wide movement to double the percentage of 3rd graders reading at grade level by starting at birth, working together and investing only in programs that work. Launched in early 2015, Read Charlotte will not provide services itself, but will be an “air traffic controller,” coordinator and funder to existing literacy entities that serve children. Executive Director Munro Richardson will align resources and share data to promote programs making the biggest impact on children’s literacy in Charlotte.

Third grade is the critical dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn. Roughly 75% of students who don’t read on grade level by the end of third grade never catch up. These students are four times more likely to drop out of school. Conversely, 96% of students who read on grade level by the end of third grade will graduate from high school.

"Reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation, career and life success," said Katie B. Morris, board member of The Belk Foundation and board chair of Read Charlotte. "We have to do better. Our future depends on it."

“To reach our goal of 80% of third graders reading at grade level by 2025, we have to focus on all of Mecklenburg County. There are struggling readers in every classroom at every school, and we must work together at all levels throughout our community to get more children reading,” said Richardson.

Read Charlotte has four pillars that define the focus: Talk With Me Baby, Ready For School, Schoolhouse, and Summer Learning. The community effort will include various stakeholders and work at both the programmatic and systems levels.

“In our first few months of existence, Read Charlotte has been thinking very deeply and intentionally on how to create the conditions for change,” said Richardson. “I think many of the answers to our challenge are here in the community—we must pull these out and bring our efforts together. We must go from isolated impact on literacy to collective impact. The strategic use of data and research will be central to our work.”

Since 2014, The Belk Foundation pledged $1,500,000 to Read Charlotte. Additionally, in 2018, the Foundation invested $217,130 in Read Charlotte for an 18-month project to apply improvement science principles to early literacy outcomes in six CMS elementary schools.