Improve the reading proficiency of 480 elementary students in Los Angeles and Pasadena through 1:1 literacy tutoring with Focusing Philanthropy and Reading Partners

As always, Focusing Philanthropy covers all overhead costs. 100% of every donation will go to the 2021 Los Angeles & Pasadena Growth and Innovation Campaign.


In grades 1 to 3, students learn to read. Thereafter, students read to learn. Once students begin falling behind in reading, they tend to fall faster and further behind their peers with every year. Children who do not meet proficiency benchmarks for reading by the end of third grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school.

The communities Reading Partners serves in Pasadena and Los Angeles have some of the highest income disparities in the state of California, with students falling behind in reading at a rate higher than the state average. 73% did not meet state standards in 2016. Strong reading skills are especially critical for low-income youth, where low educational attainment can entrench them in cycle of poverty and diminish their future earning potential in the workplace.

Continued school disruptions and closures as a result of COVID-19 have exacerbated the existing opportunity gap. The long-term effects on academic achievement risk the creation of an entire generation of students who lack the literacy skills needed for future academic and life success. A June 2020 report from McKinsey and Company anticipates that most students will lose an average of 7 months of learning due to COVID-19–however, Black students may fall behind by 10.3 months, Latinx students by 9.2 months, and low-income students by more than a year.


Focusing Philanthropy and Reading Partners are partnering to increase the literacy rates of at least 480 students in Los Angeles and Pasadena in the 2021-2022 school year.

Reading Partners recruits and trains local volunteers to tutor students 1:1 twice weekly for 45 minutes, following a step-by-step, research-based literacy curriculum. The program operates in dedicated elementary school classrooms, and now remotely through virtual model Reading Partners Connects, to support K-4th grade students reading six months to 2.5 years behind grade-level. Readers attend Title I schools where 40% or more students qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch programs (an indicator of poverty) and are assessed three times each year to track progress.

The 2021 Growth and Innovation Campaign will serve students across 12 Reading Partners school sites, seven in the Los Angeles Unified School District and 5 in the Pasadena school district, and make possible supplemental virtual programming for additional opportunities to practice reading at home.


With generous support from the Helen and Will Webster Foundation, Focusing Philanthropy is leading a 1:1 giving match. From March 31 to October 31, 2021, every $1 raised by Reading Partners will be matched with $1 raised by Focusing Philanthropy, for a combined campaign fundraising goal of $600,000.

To qualify for the match, donations must be directed to Focusing Philanthropy and a minimum of $1,000. Donations are fully tax deductible and 100% of funds contributed will go to the 2021 Los Angeles & Pasadena Growth and Innovation Campaign. All Focusing Philanthropy costs are covered by its founders.