By Brandon Hubbard-Heitz, Chattanooga 2.0 Director of Literacy and Student Strategy


Earlier this month, Governor Bill Lee proclaimed March as Literacy Month in Tennessee as a way to recognize Tennessee’s continued commitment to literacy. As we navigate the intricate landscape of education, it’s vital to recognize that our commitment to literacy begins before children step into a classroom. With concerns rising about the retention of third and fourth graders due to literacy legislation, we cannot afford to wait until the middle of elementary school to intervene.

To that end, the Chattanooga 2.0 team is working to build a robust and aligned system of literacy supports for children beginning at birth. In Hamilton County, we are striving to ensure that every child has what they need at home, in school, and across the community to learn to read and write. By focusing on early childhood literacy, we can address challenges proactively, and ensure that every child builds a strong foundation in literacy.

Our students are already making incredible strides. Thanks to investments in curriculum, training, and coaching, elementary students in Hamilton County Schools achieved their highest rates of proficiency on the state’s English language arts assessment last school year. But that still means that nearly 6 out of every 10 third- through fifth-grade students are not reading or writing on grade level.

Our children are counting on the entire community of Hamilton County to step up and invest in literacy. If everyone—families, schools, business leaders, public officials, and community members—works together, we can ensure 70% of our third- through fifth-grade children are reading and writing on grade level by 2030.

Chattanooga 2.0 has developed a literacy action plan, called 70 in 7, that calls for all stakeholders to collaborate in scaling up successful existing strategies across Hamilton County and creating local proof points of evidence-backed strategies that support children at home, in school, and across the community. We want to build a robust and aligned system of literacy support that begins at birth and runs in tandem with the strategies in our Early Childhood Action Plan.

Chattanooga 2.0 is already implementing a variety of strategies to accelerate growth toward 70% proficiency here in Hamilton County:


Roads to Reading and Abriendo Puertas: This initiative, led by La Paz Chattanooga, supports children ages 0-5 at home by providing literacy resources and classes in their native languages to families with Guatemalan heritage. Recognizing that literacy begins with caregivers, providing support and guidance to parents and guardians will empower them to cultivate a literacy-rich environment from the very beginning.

Literacy First Tutoring Model: Targeting children in K-2 within schools, this high-impact tutoring model offers personalized literacy support to address individual needs. Through one-on-one support during the school day, we can bridge gaps in literacy skills and set students on a path to success as they are beginning to learn to read and write.

Family Reads: Continuing to extend our reach beyond the classroom, Family Reads supports children in K-5 at home, fostering a culture of reading within families. Through a quarterly book distribution, this initiative provides access to books and encourages shared reading experiences to nurture a lifelong love for learning in direct alignment with Hamilton County Schools’ elementary literacy curriculum.

Out-of-School Time Literacy Toolkit: In collaboration with Boys and Girls Clubs of Chattanooga and Girls Inc. of Chattanooga, we are piloting a new toolkit that extends literacy support to children in K-2 (and eventually K-5) across the community. By integrating literacy activities into afterschool programs that are drawn directly from Hamilton County Schools’ literacy curriculum, we ensure that learning continues beyond the school day.


The above initiatives are just the beginning. We can double the number of Hamilton County’s children reading and writing on grade level if—and only if—our community commits to improving literacy supports for children. Designed to impact children when they are at home, in school, or across the broader community, the strategies in our 70 in 7 plan require that we work collectively to build a future where every child has the opportunity to thrive. Learn more about these initiatives and how you can do your part to help us reach this goal by visiting


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