3rd Grade Reading Success Matters

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Health Determinants of Early School Success

Learning begins at birth, and healthy development greatly impacts children’s ability to learn.

Common sense, reflective practice, the wisdom of lived experience and decades of research tell us that learning begins at birth, and that healthy development greatly impacts children’s ability to learn. Children who are on track in their physical, social and emotional, cognitive, and verbal development are more successful learners from their earliest years, and they are more likely to become proficient readers.

Honing in the health issues that are most closely correlated with early school success — could prove a powerful intervention for one of the vicious cycles that sustain and nourish the intergenerational poverty we seek to disrupt.



  • Prenatal Care supports early brain development 
  • Social and emotional development build curiosity and supports learning
  • Screenings help catch developmental and hearing problems before they interfere with learning

  • Regular dental care prevents lost learning time
  • Breakfast in the classroom improves attendance and learning
  • Managing asthma helps them reduce absences

  • Physical activity helps children pay attention and learn 
  • Summer food programs keep kids healthy when school is out



GLR_HealthDeterminants_diagram 4-20-17outlines

(download infographic)


The More Hopeful Futures “road-test” cohort
was launched in June 015. Fourteen funder coalitions representing 40 communities in 8 states are partnering with the GLR Campaign to “double down” on and strengthen existing community action plans around school readiness, school attendance, and summer learning by “lifting up” and intentionally addressing the health determinants of early school success and the role of parents. Supporting the Funding Partners is a growing coalition of local and national program partners and sector-leading organizations. Together, they are committed to addressing challenges to progress: pervasive fragmentation and duplication of effort; proliferation of silos, lack of policy alignment and the challenge of gaining access to data for timely decision making.
Learn More


Toward Bigger Outcomes
Publication date: May 2017
Common sense tells us that health matters to children’s school success — that children who don’t feel well or haven’t reached a critical developmental milestone might not perform as well as other kids in the classroom. This report draws upon nearly 20 years of research to highlight the moral imperative of ensuring that all children lead healthy and productive lives.
Download brief


Leveraging Medicaid: Key Philanthropic Strategies to Address the Health Determinants of Early School Success
Publication date: April 2016
As the number of children enrolled in Medicaid continues to increase, so does the need to align efforts across sectors to ensure all children are born healthy and successful in school. This brief explores the ways in which funders take action to maximize Medicaid funding by being a voice for change, influencing the broader field, using grant dollars and providing philanthropic leadership.
Download brief


Growing Healthy Readers: Resource Guides
Publication date: April 2014
This comprehensive series of resource guides was developed to help community- and state-level coalitions determine how to take action on priority issues that affect children’s health and learning. Each guide includes research documenting the effects on learning, strategies for improving outcomes and case studies of effective local programs.

Download guides:Healthy Births and Infancy | Screenings and Intervention | Social-Emotional Development | Oral Health | Asthma | Food Choices | Physical Activity


Growing Healthy Readers Starter Kit
Publication date: September 2012
This Starter Kit is intended to serve as a catalyst to assist communities in improving opportunities for children to achieve reading proficiency by the end of third grade by integrating health strategies in support of school readiness, improved attendance and summer learning. It is designed to help GLR Campaign coalitions identify the health and developmental issues that contribute to low levels of grade-level reading achievement among children from low-income families.
Download Starter Kit


Innovations Brief: Healthy Readers
Publication date: April 2015
The Healthy Readers Innovation Brief illustrates the role of health in developing strong and confident readers. Innovative initiatives in GLR Campaign communities Des Moines, Iowa, Providence, R.I. and Fresno, Calif. are highlighted.
Download brief