Educational Institutions

Children's Literacy Initiative

aka CLI

Philadelphia, PA

Mission

Children's Literacy Initiative works with pre-kindergarten through third grade teachers to transform instruction so that children can become powerful readers, writers and thinkers. CLI's focus on improving literacy instruction in the early grades is grounded in research: we know that reading proficiently by the end of third grade is key for future success, and that teaching quality has a greater effect on student achievement than any other in-school factor. In partnership with teachers, principals, and district leaders, CLI provides educators with training and coaching in the most effective practices for early literacy instruction, extends these services with online professional development resources, and stocks classrooms with learning materials and collections of high-quality children’s literature. To support sustainable change in under-resourced and underperforming schools, we establish CLI Model Classrooms™, concrete examples of expert literacy instruction in action. Model Classrooms are eye-openers: by showing what is possible in a real classroom, it raises teachers' expectations for their students and for themselves.

By developing and building on teachers’ instructional strengths—skills that improve over time and are not lost when administrations, buildings, or curricula change—we help create a sustainable, school-wide culture of literacy that introduces students to the joys of reading, writing, and life-long learning. Successful schools grow successful students: investing in vulnerable children’s literacy skills in the early years sets them on a positive trajectory throughout school and beyond. Over the long term, investments in early education improve the health of our society as a whole; in a 21st century knowledge economy, it is imperative that we equip today’s students with the literacy skills they will need to become tomorrow’s workers, innovators and leaders.

Initially, CLI focused on providing children’s books and related trainings to teachers in low-income neighborhoods. Recognizing that these activities alone are not enough to close the literacy gap, services were expanded to include more in-depth training and job-embedded coaching to help educators put effective teaching strategies into practice. In the late 1990’s, CLI began developing Model Classrooms in low-performing schools to serve as demonstrations of effective literacy instruction as well as in-house professional development resources.

CLI’s work has been studied and validated by prestigious organizations.

~ The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High-Impact Philanthropy has re-affirmed CLI as an “exemplar agent” improving early literacy education and making a long-term impact (2008-2014).
~ An OMG Center for Collaborative Learning study showed that kindergartners and first graders in schools with CLI Model Classrooms™ consistently outperformed peers on literacy skill assessments (2009).
~ Evidence of the value of CLI Model Classrooms™was confirmed by our receipt of a $21.7 million grant from the first year of the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) (2010).
~ NonprofitInvestor.org, which works to improve philanthropic capital allocation using due diligence, research, and analysis, rated CLI a “Buy” citing our proven track record and impact model (2013).
~ CLI earned its third consecutive 4-star rating (out of 4 stars) from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent evaluator of charities, showing adherence to good governance and fiscal responsibility. Only 12% of rated charities have received at least three consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that CLI outperforms most other charities in America (2014).
~ Preliminary results of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) randomized, control-group study of our i3 project for 2012-2013 show CLI significantly impacting kindergarten early reading skills and teacher instructional practice and classroom environment in kindergarten and first grades (2014).

Ruling Year

1988

Executive Director

Joel Zarrow Ph.D.

Main Address

2314 Market St

Philadelphia, PA 19103 USA

Keywords

early literacy, reading, learning to read and write, model classrooms, early childhood education, teacher professional development, literacy, books

EIN

23-2515768

 Number

2741086029

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Remedial Reading, Reading Encouragement (B92)

Primary/Elementary Schools (B24)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Model Classrooms/Schools

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Charting Impact

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What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

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What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

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What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

CLI works to transform early literacy instruction so that more children can learn to read by third grade. CLI operates with a sense of urgency: academic trajectories tend to be established early in life. Our work is rooted in the most current research on what works in early literacy education and is proven to increase at-risk students’ success.

CLI works with school leaders to leverage the strengths of teachers to foster meaningful collaboration among colleagues, generate passion for accomplishing goals, boost student and teacher success, and establish hubs of instructional excellence. In the grade levels where we work, CLI's objectives are to:

1. improve teacher literacy instruction and ensure that teachers can meet Common Core goals,
2. improve classroom environments,
3. improve instructional resources and peer support through the development of Model Classroom teachers as grade-level leaders and Model Classrooms as teacher learning sites,
4. improve student literacy achievement.

CLI’s proven theory of action shows that teachers can become exemplary instructors when they receive the right combination and intensity of training and coaching. CLI incorporates what research tells us about successful professional development: that it emphasizes active teaching, assessment, observation, and reflection, rather than abstract discussions, and it is sustained over time. Our professional development model provides rigorous training seminars followed by job-embedded coaching to help teachers convert unfamiliar strategies into classroom habits through practice, constructive feedback, and support.

CLI's strategy is not a dependency model: by focusing on the craft of teaching and building on teachers’ instructional strengths—skills that improve over time and are not lost when administrations, buildings, or curricula change—we help create a sustainable culture of literacy that introduces kindergarten through third grade students to the joys of reading, writing, and life-long learning.

A single teacher, armed with effective instruction strategies, has the power to help 25 – 30 children become readers and writers each year of his/her career. Since one teacher will educate hundreds of students over her career, improving her instructional practice is an excellent investment.

CLI has a solid reputation with an array of stakeholders – teachers, school leaders, peer organizations, philanthropic donors – as a first-rate provider of early literacy best practices, and has been consistently recognized for its outstanding leadership, performance, and adaptability. Our Professional Developers who conduct trainings and coaching sessions in the classroom are highly experienced. They receive ongoing support from CLI to keep up with the most current applicable research and regularly engage in the cross-pollination of ideas and strategies. More than 90% have master degrees.

CLI has many years of experience working in classrooms and working with school district leadership. CLI meets regularly with district personnel and has long-term collaborations with many different district administrators, strengthening our ability to successfully carry on the work when any one person leaves.

CLI rigorously assesses the impact of all CLI programs and makes a consistent effort to use data to refine and improve them. For example, CLI regularly uses teacher assessment data to inform planning conversations with district leadership. Teachers bring student work to their CLI coaching sessions and grade-level meetings to assess student progress and develop differentiated instruction to foster improvement. CLI also uses data to assess and adjust the intensity of coaching that would best lead to the strong partnerships necessary to support the deep, impactful work of the CLI Model Classrooms program.

CLI has been studied and validated by prestigious organizations:

~ The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High-Impact Philanthropy has re-affirmed CLI as an “exemplar agent” improving early literacy education and making a long-term impact (2008-2014).
~ An OMG Center for Collaborative Learning study showed that kindergartners and first graders in schools with CLI Model Classrooms™ consistently outperformed peers on literacy skill assessments (2009).
~ Evidence of the value of CLI Model Classrooms™ was confirmed by our receipt of a $21.7 million grant from the first year of the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) (2010).
~ NonprofitInvestor.org, which works to improve philanthropic capital allocation using due diligence, research, and analysis, rated CLI a “Buy.” Citing our proven track record and impact model, they concluded that CLI demonstrates a clear impact with a high degree of transparency (2013).
~ CLI earned its third consecutive 4-star rating (out of 4 stars) showing adherence to good governance and fiscal responsibility from Charity Navigator, America’s largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities. Only 12% of rated charities have received at least three consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that CLI outperforms most other charities in America (2014).
~ Preliminary results of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) randomized, control-group study of CLI's i3 project for 2012-2013 show CLI significantly impacting early reading skills in kindergartens, and teacher instructional practice and classroom environment in kindergartens and first grades (2014).

In speaking about the transformative power of our program, a principal described CLI’s model as one that presents educators with an authentic belief system—rather than simply a series of good ideas—which then leads to the successful development of a strong literacy school community.

American Institutes for Research is conducting a randomized control-group study of CLI's Investing in Innovation (i3) project in 38 schools where we are working with close to 500 teachers, in four cities (Philadelphia, Chicago, and Newark and Camden, NJ). The final results will be published in fall 2015.

External Reviews

Financials

Children's Literacy Initiative

Fiscal year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable