The Augusta Literacy Initiative

Over the last few years, many members of the philanthropic community in our area have been grappling with questions of impact and duplication in their work. These questions are not unique to our community and are, in fact, essential to ensuring quality grantmaking that addresses our area’s specific needs at this time in our collective history.

To evaluate the efficacy of our work, the Community Foundation for the CSRA asked several local foundations to join us in funding research that would aim to answer the following: given our most challenging community needs – as defined by the United Way needs assessment – how does our nonprofit community align in terms of capacity and capability with those needs? The Georgia Center for Nonprofits conducted an asset mapping as well as a trend analysis of the 30901, 30904, and 30906 zip code areas of Richmond County. The resulting information has guided the Community Foundation’s work in multiple ways.

One of the most important aspects of that work is our decision to develop a new granting program that would use current best practices regarding effective grantmaking to address tough, often intractable, community challenges.  This program is place-based and multi-generational – meaning that the work focuses on defined geographic areas and addresses needs throughout a person’s life from birth to adulthood. These two frameworks have shown great promise in terms of addressing the cycle of poverty.

Through a partnership with statewide efforts, Literacy for All, our team has focused this program on literacy and the many barriers to productive learning that face families living in poverty. The Community Foundation has relationships with many organizations already working tirelessly on this issue and sought from the beginning to capitalize on their work by facilitating intentional collaboration and providing much-needed capacity building, multi-year funding. Working with a small committee made up of people who were already working in this area, we developed a granting process that focused not just on direct funding for literacy programs but also on the wrap-around services aimed at reducing barriers to learning.

The Community Foundations Literacy Initiative’s pilot program first awarded grants in July 2019. These grants were awarded to selected organizations willing to focus their work on the Harrisburg neighborhood as defined by the children who attend Lamar Milledge Elementary and their families. Our hope was that by intentional funding a cohort of educators and service providers that provide programming and support across the entire life cycle, we would have measurable improvements to literacy and a positive impact on the entire neighborhood. Following the first three-year pilot, we launched the initiative in W.S. Hornsby Elementary School and Heritage Early Learning Academy. In year five, we are including the Family YMCA of Greater Augusta.

We are very focused on supporting our grantees through regular meetings where they can talk through problems they’ve encountered, find ways to share resources, make course corrections, and share data. Each organization collects data as part of their work, and we then take and analyze that data to measure our collective impact.

The Community Foundation is proud to be working with the following Literacy Initiative partners:

Augusta Partnership for Children
Parents as Teachers Program for Birth – PreK

Augusta-Richmond County Public Library
Monthly Free Books, Storytime and activities for birth to age 5

Augusta Richmond County Public Schools
Partnership with Lamar-Milledge Elementary and W.S. Hornsby Elementary schools
Providing literacy-rich resources that can’t be acquired through school budgets

Augusta University
Collection and Analyzing of Data

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Augusta
Afterschool Small Group Tutoring

Economic Opportunity Authority
Wraparound supports and Case Management

Family YMCA of Greater Augusta Child Development Academy
Free Early childhood enrichment programs

Heritage Early Learning Academy
Free Early childhood enrichment programs

RISE Augusta
In-school remediation and tutoring
Free Little Libraries
Events using the Basics

Westabou Montessori School
Free Early childhood enrichment programs

Want to help?

You can contribute to our literacy efforts by donating today.