Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

Triangle Community Foundation and United Way of the Greater Triangle spearhead regional reading proficiency campaign

The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) is partnering with the United Way of the Greater Triangle, Triangle Community Foundation and community coalitions in Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties to ensure children are on a pathway to grade-level reading by the end of third grade, giving them the tools to succeed in the 21st century economy.

By 2020, 67 percent of jobs in North Carolina will need post-secondary education. Proficient reading in the early grades predicts high school and even later success. Simply put, those who can read at grade level or beyond go on to graduate. Those who aren’t proficient in reading by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. The impact is significant for these students, their families, economic growth in our community and social mobility of low-income households.

According to the NC Department of Public Instruction in 2016, average grade-level reading proficiency for economically disadvantaged children in these five counties was 40 percent, and for all students it was 58 percent. That’s over half of students in the region that cannot read on grade-level by the end of third grade.

Through this partnership, Triangle Community Foundation and United Way of the Greater Triangle are leveraging resources to make a regional impact on literacy, with a combined initial investment of more than $700,000. Triangle Community Foundation is providing multi-year grants to four community coalitions – Bull City Reads, WAKE Up and Read, Chatham Reads and a new collaborative forming in Orange County. United Way is supporting the collaborative partnerships in Wake, Durham, Orange, and Johnston counties. Both organizations are funding NCECF to further communities’ success across the region. By working together to affect change in literacy for our students, the organizations are also hoping to grow support among other regionally minded funders.

“The partnership with Triangle Community Foundation and NCECF marks an important milestone for our organizations. Our shared vision for a regional initiative allows us to collaboratively support individual community needs, mobilize additional resources, and share best practices across communities,” said Mack Koonce, president and CEO of United Way of the Greater Triangle.

“By working together in our region to fund critical work that will effectively ensure more children have access to the resources they need so that they can become proficient readers, we can change the landscape of future success,” said Lori O’Keefe, president and CEO of Triangle Community Foundation. “Addressing this critical issue collaboratively not only raises awareness of youth literacy, but allows us to make a greater impact for our kids.”

The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is mobilizing coalitions of nonprofits, parents, business leaders, government agencies, congregations, foundations, and others to remove barriers, expand opportunities, collaborate and align efforts to ensure that children can read on grade-level by the end of third grade. The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation serves as the state lead for the campaign and supports communities’ success to build capacity to achieve measurable outcomes in school readiness, school attendance, summer learning, and grade-level reading.

Grade-level reading is achievable with policies and practices that reflect reading is a cumulative process that develops from birth and is rooted in early brain development. To be successful readers by third grade, children need:

  • Health and Development on Track Beginning at Birth
  • Supported and Supportive Families and Communities
  • High Quality Birth-to-Eight Learning Environments
  • Regular Attendance in Early Learning Programs and Schools

About the Partners

North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation is the state lead for the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a collaborative effort to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. More than 300 communities across the country are partners in the campaign. NCECF promotes understanding, spearheads collaboration and advances policies to ensure that each North Carolina child is on track for lifelong success by the end of third grade. More information at: and

Triangle Community Foundation enhances the lives of all residents of the Triangle now and for future generations. For the past 32 years, the Foundation has been connecting donors with causes they care about, investing in nonprofits and serving as a resource for local issues in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Each year the Foundation grants more than $18 million back into the community, partnering with donors and nonprofits to make a difference, now and for the future. Dedicated to building strong nonprofits, successful community leaders, and a Triangle where everyone can thrive, the Foundation works hard to continue learning and educating in our region, with the continuous support of their generous donors and fundholders. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit

United Way of the Greater Triangle predominantly in collaboration among nonprofits and works as a funder and a partner toward long-term, sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing social issues in four North Carolina counties—Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake. A two-generational approach to support vulnerable children and their families puts them at the center of services to dramatically change the course of their futures. United Way actively mobilizes the caring power of communities to build resources, focus investments, encourage community engagement, and foster cross-sector partnerships to improve lives and inspire generations of achievement. To find out more, visit

Meg Buckingham

Meg Buckingham is the director of marketing and communications at the Triangle Community Foundation. She has previously worked for The Boston Foundation, Meredith College, and United Way of the Greater Triangle. She received her bachelor’s degree from Westfield State College and her master’s degree from Suffolk University in Boston. Buckingham lives in Knightdale with her husband and son.