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School-Age Programs in the U.S.

Racer, age 7 and diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has needed support in the classroom from a young age. Prior to his participation in Save the Children's in-school literacy and afterschool programs, he had difficulty focusing and waiting his turn. Reading below grade-level at the start of second grade, Racer has been attending Save the Children’s in-school programming and is now reading at grade level! Racer now says he "loves to read" and "reading is fun and you should always do your best.

School-Age Programs in the U.S.

The Need

Did you know that only about 1 in 3 American fourth-graders are proficient in reading? By fourth grade, if children can't read at grade level, they're unlikely to ever catch up. In math the average student is at least half a year behind and struggling to bounce back after the pandemic, even more than educators had hoped.1

The outcome is even more alarming if learners needing additional support happen to be among the 9 million American children who live in poverty, whose only hope at a brighter future is through education. Half of all low-income fourth graders score below basic levels on U.S. literacy assessments. And yet, more than 60% of low-income families can't afford to have books in their homes.

Education is a ladder out of poverty—but that ladder is often out of reach for children living in low-income households in America. These children tend to experience learning challenges due to adversities such as lack of support, high-quality learning resources, and exposure to learning opportunities that are the building blocks of education.

Rethinking Literacy & Math in the U.S.

The key to fostering a love for learning is engaging children early while improving access to and quality of education in America. Our goal is to ensure that children have a healthy, strong foundation to thrive as learners and in life. That's why we offer effective literacy and math programs to children in even the most remote rural communities right here in the United States. Our programs help children from kindergarten through sixth grade stay on track developmentally and grow as learners.

What We Do

  • Supporting School Staff 
    Our staff provide training, resources and support schools’ needs to accelerate literacy and math growth for children facing learning difficulties.
  • Emergent Readers
    The emergent reader program provides Kindergarten and first grade children a time to build foundational reading skills needed to become successful readers, like phonemic awareness, phonics, letter and sound recognition, and high-frequency words. They also listen to the tutor model fluent reading, while incorporating vocabulary and comprehension enrichment activities.
  • Developing Readers
    The developing reader program provides children in 2nd grade through 6th grade a time to read independently with guidance from our trained tutors. They also listen to the tutor model fluent reading, while incorporating vocabulary and fluency enrichment activities.
  • Math
    Our math program provides K-6th grade children with developmentally appropriate activities to increase children’s confidence in math with an emphasis on proficiency with numeracy. The program promotes procedural fluency, conceptual understanding of mathematics, and problem solving. Studies show that success in algebra begins with an emphasis on these in the early grades.2
  • Family Engagement
    We believe caregivers should be their child’s first and most important teacher. Caregivers play a key role as partners in supporting children’s educational success, therefore all school-age programs implemented by Save the Children integrate high-quality family engagement practices. These practices focus on relationship building, active engagement in children’s learning, effective communication, and building families’ knowledge, skills, and confidence to support learning at home. Community collaboration is another important element in linking families to community resources and services and engaging community partners to support children’s learning and success.

How Our Programs Work

  • In-School & Afterschool Programs
    To support literacy and math we provide children with small group sessions facilitated by trained partner staff. During these sessions staff provide supplemental education to build on foundational skills. In afterschool, children additionally receive a healthy snack or meal, along with physical activity during our Healthy Choices block.
  • Summer Programs
    During the summer months, children are at risk of the “summer slide,” where they lose achievements made in the previous school year. Low-income children are also most impacted by the "summer slide," falling 2 ½ to 3 years behind their higher income peers by the fifth grade. We offer a variety of options to curb learning loss.
    • SummerBoost Camp®: Our award-winning summer program creates a culture that is different from the school year and promotes a sense of community. A full day of integrated, themed programming builds skills, knowledge and behaviors that promote academic success and healthy development. Activities reflect a blend of academic and social/emotional development strategies throughout the entire camp experience.
    • KinderBoost®: We offer KinderBoost for our youngest learners. Before school starts, this impactful program helps preschoolers familiarize themselves with their new school environment, make friends, engage in activities, and build confidence, not only in the children, but caregivers, as well. Additionally, we offer Taste of Kindergarten, which is a ½ day KinderBoost experience.
    • Summer Learning Materials: We offer carefully curated education materials to our partner communities, with the goal of providing high-quality resources and support to more children across rural America to mitigate summer learning loss.

Our Results for Children

Save the Children’s programs produce stellar results for children. Student evaluations from last year show:

  • Save the Children’s school-based literacy programs reached 14,994 children, and math programs reached 5,221 children.
  • 76% of children from our target population achieved significant growth on their literacy assessment, and 70% of children from our target population demonstrated significant progress on their math assessment.
  • Families are reading with their children on average 4 days per week & 88% felt confident in supporting their child's education at home.

What Children are Saying

"I learned how to become a better reader – I feel happy."
 –Annabell, 8, Arkansas

"I like the fun that we do [at SummerBoost Camp]. My favorite thing is the STEM projects [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics], and I like the reading and the math games. I’ve learned how to read better."
 –Owen, 12, West Virginia

"My new favorite thing is learning. Improving my reading is important."
 –Jayceon, 9, South Carolina

"I love reading non-fiction books! The more books you read the better you get at reading."
 –Conner, 9, Tennessee

"Jamie [Program Coordinator] has made me feel comfortable when reading to her and always encourages me."
 –Connor, 10, Tennessee


  1. Gilreath, A., & Valley, J. (2023, August 29). Math Help Adds Up as Students Head Back to School. AP News. Retrieved from
  2. U.S. Department of Education. (2008). Foundations for Success: The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Retrieved from