United States

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As the world’s third-most-populated country, the United States is considered one of its most developed and powerful. But the poverty rate in America is still relatively high. The U.S. is first among the world’s 25 richest countries in its percentage of children living in poverty. This is especially true for minority children living in rural communities, where child poverty rates are between 40 and 70 percent. It’s a harsh reality: One in every five American children live in poverty, and one in every three American children of color live in poverty.

ChildFund’s efforts in the U.S. are directed toward parent and community engagement and empowerment, with a focus on youth agency. We also recognize the potential in creating positive change for American children through restoring cultural values and traditions unique to each of the communities where we work. We partner with community-based organizations in Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas, addressing the specific needs of each area.

ChildFund has served children in the U.S. since 1952.

ChildFund aims to improve the literacy rate in the United States through the Just Read! Program. The program provides a foundation of reading for pleasure from infancy on, which better prepares American children educationally and enables them to build better futures for themselves. The accompanying “Read to Me” message strengthens healthy parent-child relationships even in families where parents are English-language learners or struggle with reading themselves. Opportunities for parents to participate in family-centered Reading Festivals increase their confidence that they have something to contribute.

In this age group, the Just Read! program helps American children to “travel” to distant places and different times by reading books offered through reading clubs, reading festivals, summer camps, author visits and other fun activities. They also explore people, places and events close to home, through books such as Lakota Leader Readers, 101 African American Achievements and Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask, all of which reflected and strengthened their own cultural self-images, values and traditions. Through book distributions, children were able to choose books of their liking and then take them home to keep, a first for many of them.

Through ChildFund’s programs, older youth gain experience in serving as change agents in their neighborhoods and as positive role models for younger children. Youth read with elementary students during after-school and summer programs, and with pre-school children during visits to child care centers. The Youth Employment Initiative in Texas connects young people with employment opportunities and provides training in life skills, business skills and job-specific skills, as well as mentoring for youth experiencing employment for the first time. Other teens work as interns, learning job skills, customer service and financial literacy as they work in community gardens, farmers’ markets and cafés.

ChildFund engages its communities by working with pizzerias, parks, radio stations, schools, civic groups, youth groups, universities, sheriffs’ departments, sororities, local libraries and other organizations to spread the message that reading is fun. These partners donate books, read to children, provide promotional support and facilitate Reading Festival activity stations.

 

 

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