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Walmart Grant Sparks Positive Outcomes in Adolescent Literacy

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BOSTON, Massachusetts (May 19, 2015) -A report released today by six recipients of a $33 million Walmart (NYSE: WMT)Foundation adolescent literacy grant found significant increases in educational outcomes for middle school students across the country.

Titled Telling Our Stories, the report (http://middleschoolsuccess.net/) profiles each organizations' research-driven solution to bridging gaps in adolescent literacy and improving education outcomes for disadvantaged students. The grant recipient organizations are: BELL, Citizen Schools, City Year, Innovations in Civic Participation, National Summer Learning Association, and WGBH Boston.

"Walmart is dedicated to strengthening the communities it serves around the world. The Walmart Foundation grants profiled here have benefited thousands of students in the most disadvantaged schools in the country," said Kathleen McLaughlin, CEO, Walmart Foundation. "These initiatives offer a rich collection of data-driven outcomes and best practices for leveling the educational playing field for all of our nation's students."

The Walmart Foundation selected the six organizations because of their successful track records in directly improving literacy outcomes for high-needs students, and each organization's ability to build a program that would be scalable and sustainable over time. Each organization's adolescent literacy program showed significant measurable increases in academic outcomes for participating students:

  • Four months of gains in math and two months of gains in literacy skills for BELL summer scholars in six weeks.
  • English language arts proficiency in grades served by Citizen Schools extended learning time increased by an average of 4.2 points, and math proficiency increased by 6.2 points each year.
  • A full letter grade improvement in English language arts for 39% of sixth through ninth graders working with City Year in the 2012-2013 school year.
  • Expansion of Innovations in Civic Participation programs to over 600 at-risk students in seven communities.
  • An average gain in math of 4.1 months by NSLA Summer Advantage USA scholars in Chicago and Indianapolis, and an advancement rate of 94% to top college preparatory schools by scholars in Washington D.C.'s Higher Achievement Program.
  • An 8% increase in vocabulary for 300 students after completing just five WGBH-developed literacy lessons that were funded with the grant.

The Walmart Foundation's investment in BELL began with a three-year Smarter Summers grant that enabled the nonprofit to partner with Boston Public Schools, Baltimore City Schools, and public schools in New York City to expand summer learning opportunities for middle school scholars. A second investment catalyzed new partnerships with schools in San Jose and San Rafael, CA and Winston-Salem, NC.