The Holyoke Early Literacy Initiative [HELI], Holyoke’s Grade-Level Reading Campaign is recognized as a 2014 Pacesetter for making measurable progress on student attendance outcomes. Holyoke gained a total of 1500 days of attendance between 2012-13 and 2013-14.
The HELI Theory of Action focuses on four strategies. These include: District-wide efforts to increase Attendance, Family Engagement, 0-5 “Kindergarten Readiness” and aligning Instructional Partnerships. Specific work to target school attendance included community-wide attendance awareness campaign to help parents understand and own the importance of good attendance and find out about supports that address barriers to getting to school; school-level messaging, modeling and incentives to nurture a culture and cultivate the habits of excellent attendance; home visiting and a series of broader, on-going efforts to build early warning and rapid response systems to reduce and prevent chronic absence.
HELI reaches approximately 5000 low-income children in the community. In partnership with the Holyoke Public Schools, HELI regularly tracks the percent of K-3 students from low-income families who are chronically absent as a key measure of its overall impact on student outcomes. Reflecting on the community’s progress since it joined the Campaign in 2012, local GLR Lead, Michael Moriarty, commented, “I co-chair the Attend for Literacy Committee, made up of school and community partners who monitor chronic absenteeism in Holyoke, and promote best practices in our schools. From before school programs at Donohue School to the Walking Schools Bus at Kelly, and many home visiting programs at other schools, we are seeing a real impact.”
The following organizations are active HELI Partners in the work to achieve rapid and sustained growth in early literacy in Holyoke:
- Holyoke Public Schools
- United Way of Pioneer Valley
- City of Holyoke, MA
- The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation
- Olde Holyoke Development Corporation
- Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke
- Coordinated Family Community Engagement Program
- Criterion-Heritage Early Intervention Program
- Enchanted Circle Theater
- Enlace de Familias Inc.
- Girls Inc.
- Greater Holyoke YMCA
- Hampshire College
- Holyoke Public Library
- Homework House
- Main Street Writers
- Mount Holyoke College (Teacher Licensure Programs)
- Square One
- Valley Opportunity Council (VOC)
- Westfield State University
- Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Head Start
- Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce
- Holyoke Adult Learning Opportunities Center
- Holyoke Public Library
- Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care