The Georgia Department of Education has been awarded nearly $180 million to support literacy efforts in the state’s K-12 public schools through the federal Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant, Governor Brian P. Kemp announced today.

Georgia will receive a total of $179,174,766 over five years to continue the Literacy for Learning, Living, and Leading in Georgia (L4GA) initiative, which aims to improve literacy outcomes for students from birth through grade 12.

Introduced by State School Superintendent Richard Woods in 2016, L4GA is a unique approach to improving literacy that pairs community-driven action with research-proven instruction. In its first round, funded by a federal Striving Readers grant of $61.5 million, thirty-eight school districts have partnered with early learning and care providers as well as community organizations to implement community efforts and improve classroom instruction. By working together, schools, early learning providers, and caretakers, and community leaders are moving the needle on literacy – in 2019, third-grade students showed significant gains in English Language Arts and grade-level reading.

“In the first nine months of my administration, we made historic strides in education," said Governor Kemp. "We raised teacher pay, invested in school security, increased funding for mental health services, and fully-funded public education for the second year in a row.

"But there is more work to be done - especially when it comes to childhood literacy. In fulfilling another campaign promise, I tasked the Georgia Department of Education, the Department of Early Care and Learning, and the Governor's Office of Student Achievement to work together on this important issue. This federal grant will boost our state partnership to raise literacy rates and ultimately improve overall academic success for Georgia students."

“Reading is an essential part of all other educational attainment; literacy is the key that unlocks the door to a lifetime of learning,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Being awarded nearly $180 million through a competitive federal grant process shows that Georgia’s literacy efforts are viewed as strong, sustainable, and worthy of investment. The students of our state deserve no less.”

Woods praised L4GA leaders, Meghan Welch, Julie Morrill, and Caitlin McMunn Dooley, for securing this second round of competitive funding.

Ninety-five percent of Georgia’s award will be competitively awarded to local school districts and their community partners to serve students from birth through grade 12. The sub-awards will take into account the poverty level of a community, the percentage of students reading below grade level, the recent rate of growth in the number of students reading above grade level, and whether a school is identified for support from the Department of Education’s School Improvement team. The competitive sub-award process will be conducted this winter.