A 2015 study by the National Assessment for Education found that just 33% of American fourth and eighth-graders are at or above proficiency level in reading. That percentage is even more abysmal when looking solely at children from low-income families. Only 18 percent of students living in poverty are reading proficiently, per the U.S. Department of Education, while another study found that 61 percent of low-income families don’t have any children’s books at home.
The stats are a cause for major concern: Studies have shown that one in six third graders who struggle with reading will not complete high school, and high school dropouts are more likely to have drug and alcohol abuse problems, be unemployed and commit crimes at a higher rate than those who graduate.
Goldin Martinez is doing something about the low literacy levels in underserved communities. But that’s not all. He’s also tackling growing obesity rates in those same communities. It’s a 2-for-1 that’s making serious impact and changing how kids look at reading.