LOS ANGELES, CA — The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce helped launch a county-wide effort today that challenges local students to read a million words in three months.
The Million Word Challenge, organized locally by the community-based organization Families in Schools in partnership with the L.A. Area Chamber, challenges students to read a million words before school, after school and pretty much any opportunity they get for a chance to be recognized in front of their school and win a $50 Target gift card for books.
“L.A. County is challenged by some of the lowest literacy rates in the country with a staggering 56 percent of third graders reading below grade level,” said L.A. Area Chamber Senior Vice President David Rattray. “If there’s anything we can do to get these kids reading, we will because their literacy will ultimately determine their success and the success of our community as a whole.
“This is an opportunity for business, civic and education leaders to come together as one community and promote a lifelong love of reading amongst our students to ensure they develop the critical thinking skills crucial in a competitive 21st century economy.”
The Million Word Challenge has engaged hundreds of schools in promoting the power of books and literacy. In 2010, more than 200,000 students in 330 schools read more than 22,000 books.
The challenge serves as a local arm of The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a national movement led locally by the L.A. Area Chamber, which works to build awareness about the country’s literacy crisis.
“It is wonderful to see non-traditional partners like the L.A. Area Chamber join the efforts to improve reading proficiency in Los Angeles … Reading is a student’s ticket to a good job,” said Ralph Smith, a senior vice president with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which manages the national campaign.
The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of business in L.A. County. Founded in 1888, the Chamber promotes a prosperous economy and quality of life in the Los Angeles region. For more information, visit www.lachamber.com.