Providence Wins $5M Bloomberg Prize to Close the Word Gap

Mar 13, 2013

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras says it’s a dream that the city won a $5 million prize to help low-income children boost language skills. The prize money came from a philanthropic organization set up by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Providence wins $5 million prize from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Credit RIPR

Providence won with a program that will equip low-income children with devices that record conversations and count the words they are exposed to. The children’s parents will then be coached on ways to expose kids to more words. The goal is to close what’s known as “the word gap,” between low-income and more affluent four-year-olds.

During a conference call in New York this morning, Taveras said he wants to roll this out as soon as possible.

“This is part of our campaign to get all of our kids reading at grade level by 3rd grade,” says Taveras. “But some of them are starting that even by kindergarten, they’re already behind.”

Providence beat out more than 300 cities for the grand prize. Runners up include Philadelphia, Chicago and Houston.

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