Urban Literacy Project

Forty 2nd-grade students from the Cabrini-Green housing project completed Chicago Bible Society's Urban Literacy pilot project. The program was run in partnership with By the Hand Club for Kids, and used the Mission:Literacy curriculum designed by the American Bible Society. 

The results were impressive: 57% of the students with below-grade reading scores were able to read at their grade level after fourteen weeks. Their comprehension of the Bible also increased dramatically. According to Executive Director Ken Oliver, CBS is planning to expand the program to reach 120 kids next semester: "Right now the only barrier is financial. If we raise the money, we will do the project."  

By The Hand Club for Kids is one of the largest and most successful after-school programs in Chicago.  Currently working in three locations throughout the city, By the Hand Club focuses on children who are at the highest risk of failure in areas with high poverty and underperforming schools.  Nearly 900 children participate in their various programs.

Cabrini-Green is a nationally famous public housing project on the near north side of the city.  It was the setting for the 1970’s TV comedy “Good Times” and  more recently has been famous for its gang activity and violence.  It is currently undergoing redevelopment; however a large high-poverty, predominately African American population remains. 


Altgeld Gardens, while not nationally known, is Chicago’s largest pubic housing project.  Located in an isolated area of the south side, Altgeld has the issues of the poverty and crime associated with public housing projects.

The pilot project operated during the school semester starting the first week in January and running through the second week of June of 2012.  The test class was of second grade students at each of the two sites.  The students were assessed before and after using the curriculum.  The two areas of assessment included reading and Bible knowledge levels.

The results show a significant improvement in reading score using the Mission:Literacy material.  The end results indicate the participating locations had the most students reading at or above grade level and the least number of students reading below grade level at the end of the five months. 
You can download the complete report. 


Report Highlights and Key Findings:
• 40 2nd grade students at two housing projects participated in the project.
• There were significant increases in reading scores:
  - 35% decrease in below-grade reading scores.
  - 57% increase in students reading at grade level
  - 250% increase in students reading above grade level.
• There were measurable increases in retention and comprehension of the Bible stories:
  - Mission:Literacy students were 400% more likely to retain content than children in a control Bible study group.
  - In before & after comparisons, the students show significant increases in their knowledge of the Bible.



Download the Full Report

View Test Results