FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mary Ellen Isaacs
FIRST LADY OF TEXAS SHOWS SUPPORT FOR UT LITERACY PROGRAM REBRAND
Cecilia Abbott was the guest of honor Thursday morning at an unveiling of the new name and logo for ACE: A Community for Education, an early literacy program based at The University of Texas at Austin. The new name, Literacy First, will position the program as a regional leader in literacy tutoring for young children.
The unveiling event took place on the first day of orientation for the 106 AmeriCorps members whom Literacy First will train and send to Austin schools as reading tutors this year. Mrs. Abbott spoke directly to the new tutors, thanking them for their decision to serve the Austin community. “I believe we are each called to service,” she told them, “and you have enthusiastically answered that call.”
The First Lady also complemented Literacy First’s focus on literacy programming for kindergarten through second grade students: “A good education is the ladder we give all of our children to help them reach their dreams, and we need every child in Texas reading and writing at or above grade level by third grade.”
Dr. Paul Cruz, Superintendent of longtime Literacy First partner Austin ISD, followed Mrs. Abbott in the program. Superintendent Cruz thanked Literacy First Director Mary Ellen Isaacs for her hard work in Austin schools over the past two decades, and his description of Isaacs as a “phenomenal leader” was met with appreciative applause from the audience. Jacquie Porter, AISD Director of Childhood Education, brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience as she described her experience as a young child who struggled to read. Finally Judge Tom Phillips, retired Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, led the group of tutors in the AmeriCorps Pledge.
The reveal of Literacy First’s new name and logo follows an intensive rebranding exploration process in which the organization worked to distill its values and identity. Both Advisory Board and staff members believe the new name highlights their core values as an organization: that children reading successfully by third grade must remain the group’s focus, that literacy should be the number one educational priority for children, and that reading skills should be cemented as early as possible in a child’s education.
The new name’s inclusion of the word “first” also emphasizes the way that the organization tackles illiteracy as a root cause of poverty. National studies have shown that students who can’t read by third grade become four times more likely to drop out of school, thus continuing the cycle of poverty. By making sure that low-income children become strong readers in those crucial early years, the tutoring program gives them the chance to succeed in school and pursue a brighter future. This mission to help students become their best selves through literacy is reflected not only in the company’s new name, but also in the tagline, “Bright Futures Ahead.”
While the name and logo may have changed, the visionary program will continue implementing the same high quality tutoring and getting the results that funders and school partners have come to expect. In the 2016-2017 year Literacy First will send AmeriCorps literacy tutors into 32 elementary schools in the Austin area, teaching 2,200 students in kindergarten through second grade how to read.
“We have over 20 years of experience helping young children become successful readers, yet very few people know about our work. We are closing the achievement gap for over 2000 students every year, and now we can communicate that impact much more effectively to people who might not be familiar with what we do.” – Mary Ellen Isaacs, Director, Literacy First
“ACE has long been considered by many to be the ‘first,’ as in the premiere, early literacy intervention program in Austin. ACE was also built on the conviction that among the skills children need to succeed in school, literacy is first. Now our new name states that imperative loud and clear: Literacy First. The Advisory Board are excited to have a name that leaves no ambiguity as to what our mission is and what our accomplishments are. We are shouting it from the rooftops!” – Teresa Oppedal, Advisory Board Chair, Literacy First