Reading within Reach (REACH): Building Evidence and Supporting Innovation to Improve Primary Grade Reading Assistance

The Challenge

Reading proficiency establishes a solid foundation for learning and understanding core areas of knowledge, while literacy is a driver for the reduction of poverty and accelerates economic growth. According to the World Bank, an estimated 53 percent of children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read and understand a simple story by the end of primary school. In poor countries, the level is as high as 80 percent. Since 2010, the US government has invested in reading in primary schools in over 40 countries.  A community of practice was set up to ensure policymakers, reading practitioners, USAID Missions and others who support them have the latest information and most practical tools to support development of sustainable and scalable interventions.

Overview and Objectives

The Reading within Reach (REACH) project served as the secretariat for the Global Reading Network (GRN). The GRN brought together donors, practitioners, government officials, national and international civil society organizations, and other stakeholders committed to improving reading outcomes for primary grade children around the world.  With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other key donor and development partners, the Network collected, developed, and disseminated evidence-based practices to increase the impact, scale, and sustainability of primary grade reading programs.

GRN’s protocols and metrics development, evidence-building, training and innovations efforts focused on achieving these four broad goals:

  • ensuring effective reading program design and implementation;
  • supporting teachers to improve learning outcomes;
  • improving access to quality books, in collaboration with All Children Reading, Global Book Alliance and Creative Commons; and
  • supporting inclusion of children with disabilities.


  • The network grew from 750 members in 2014 to a cumulative 4,553 members by 2019
  • 15 substantial technical products, including 3 comprehensive trainings and toolkits
  • 2,865 different individuals participated in GRN-hosted events, representing 773 organizations with individuals representing 109 countries
  • 35 single and multi-day in-person professional development events held, monthly virtual webinars drawing up to 100 participants


Bangladesh, Haiti, Indonesia, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines




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