Vargas to Offer Update on Haverhill Promise Literacy Effort at iHub Tuesday

Rep. Andy Vargas speaks at the March 19, 2018 launch of the Haverhill Promise grade level reading initiative. (WHAV News photograph.)

Rep. Andy Vargas (speaking at the March 19 launch of the Haverhill Promise literacy effort) calls for volunteers to donate books to young readers. (WHAV News photograph)

Haverhill is prepared to get all students reading at grade level by third grade—that’s a promise! The city’s formal campaign to encourage early literacy kicked off in March and state Rep. Andy Vargas is gathering local stakeholders to offer a status update to the community Tuesday at the downtown iHub.

The program centers around three pillars of school readiness, attendance and summer learning, with Haverhill businesses, school department staff and other community partners banding together to prioritize success, said Vargas.

Over the past several months, Haverhill Promise enlisted Brandeis MBA students Gabriela Corbera and Cody Smith, along with Patrick O’Connor of the nonprofit Leadership of Educational Equity, to gather research and proven strategies that could translate in Haverhill. The trio plans to present their findings at Tuesday’s meeting from 6-8 p.m.

With a roadmap for Haverhill’s early literacy effort outlined, it’s now up to the community to put the plan into action. Residents interested in donating their time and talents are encouraged to attend Tuesday’s meeting, Vargas said. Several volunteer opportunities are available, with a book distribution drive already in the works.

“Book distribution is a huge part of the readiness bucket. One of the top indicators of literacy is as basic as how many books does your family has in your house?” Vargas told WHAV. “We’re finding that the ratio of low-income families to medium and high-income families is 13 books to one.”

To get books into the hands of all families, Haverhill Promise plans to build “little libraries” across the city, filling shelves with donations from residents and local businesses.

“Part of the plan is to make a map to identify where these little libraries are, while also trying to get people to still go to the physical library, because it’s a gem,” said Vargas. “The main focus has been how to get the business community involved and incentivize book reading at the barber shop while you’re waiting to get your hair cut, or grabbing a cup of coffee at Battle Grounds, for example, maybe your kid can read a book.”

For more information on Haverhill Promise or to get involved, email the office of Rep. Vargas at [email protected]