Providence has won $5 million from the Bloomberg Philanthropies to count the number of words low-income children hear in a typical day. The project aims to address what many experts say is at the heart of the achievement gap: the fact that some children arrive in school with far richer vocabularies than others.
For the contest, Bloomberg asked cities to submit plans that would drive innovation in urban areas. Providence proposed giving children tracking devices to record the words they hear, and giving their parents advice on how to improve the children’s vocabularies.
According to the Associated Press, the selection committee chose Providence as the winner because they felt the program, dubbed “Providence Talks,” could be easily replicated in other places. Providence hopes to enroll nearly 3,000 families in the program by 2018.