The Heckscher Foundation Seeks to Counteract Reading Impairments in New York – EarlyBird’s Tool to Reach Nearly 6,000 Students


NEW YORK (October 23, 2023) – Today, the Heckscher Foundation for Children announced that it provided funding for 18 additional New York charter schools to utilize EarlyBird, a digital, self-administered, interactive game that detects dyslexia and other reading difficulties in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and/or first grades. This brings EarlyBird to 34 Heckscher-funded New York-based schools, which has or will screen 5,939 PK, K and 1st grade children for these reading challenges at an age when these learning differences can be addressed and reversed.

The latest Heckscher grant comes at a time when New York schools are continuing to experience the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and are in the midst of an early education literacy crisis. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), New York ranked 37th in the state in fourth grade reading scores in 2021-2022. To date, too few schools have taken advantage of the tools to detect dyslexia and other reading differences in the early grades.

Already being used with proven results in 20 states across the country, EarlyBird has the potential to directly counteract reading impairments, fostering academic and social-emotional success in children. The support from the Heckscher Foundation allows schools access to EarlyBird web or app-based gamified assessment, ongoing training and support, and a resource bank of concrete next steps for instructors to support students based on the data from the assessments.

“Dyslexia is an equity issue because it disproportionately impacts poor children who are diagnosed too late or not diagnosed at all. We hope that New York’s charter schools take advantage of this opportunity to better serve the needs of their students,” said Peter Sloane, CEO & Chairman of the Heckscher Foundation for Children.

About the Heckscher Foundation for Children

The Heckscher Foundation for Children uses venture philanthropy to fund innovative, results-driven programs and partnerships that level the playing field for underserved youth. Its grants focus primarily on education, including college access and persistence, workforce training and jobs access, and arts education that improves achievement in the classroom. Learn more at