RED Ahead

The education gap

Children from economically disadvantaged families can be up to two years behind in language development before they enter school when compared to their higher-income peers. In fact, children of low-income families hear as little as one-third the amount of words children from higher-income families hear. That equates to a 30-million word gap by the time children are four years old.

In 2009, a Department of Education study showed half of Linn County low-income five year olds were not ready for kindergarten.

Creating Solutions

RED Ahead (or Read Every Day to get Ahead) provides parents information and activities to help their young children develop the language skills they need to be ready for kindergarten.

Serving families in Marion and Jones and Cedar Counties, RED Ahead provides modeling for parents to give them confidence to recreate activities at home and developmental screenings to determine if children need additional services.

Since the beginning of the program:

  • 5,051 families enrolled
  • Handed out more than 34,500 books
  • Completed more than 2,270 ASQ developmental screenings


Family Success Stories

Recently, a mom and her four-year-old son visited RED Ahead. As they discussed her son’s language and development, she mentioned that before RED Ahead, her son wouldn’t even speak. She said that because of everything RED Ahead has done to help him, “Now, he won’t stop talking!”

A young mother came to RED Ahead excited to get more books for her newborn. She was finishing high school and had been reading textbooks to her baby while she studied.

When she asked if that was okay, staff assured her she was doing great things for her child! They encouraged her to keep reading and talking to her newborn, keep up the good work in school, and contact them if she needed assistance. RED Ahead was able to give her more books to take home to read with her baby, as well.

RED Ahead gave a mom the book, “The Monster at the End of the Book” to read to her son. She became very excited and said, “That was my absolute favorite book when I was growing up! Now, he will have his own copy. I’m so excited to read this to him!”

A mother recently called RED Ahead to ask if they had another copy of a book she received awhile ago. She had been through a difficult time lately, having to place one child in residential treatment and the other two into foster care.

She talks to the younger two every night and had been reading their one remaining RED Ahead book over the phone to them. She was hoping to get a second copy so they could follow along as she read.

RED Ahead was able to order another copy and also gave the mom two copies of several other books so they could have a variety.