KITCHENER, Ontario, Canada – October 17, 2019  –  Strong Start Charitable Organization is excited to announce a first time grant from Canada Post Community Foundation, in support of their high-impact early literacy programs, Letters, Sounds and Words™ and Get Ready for School™.

“Canada Post is proud to help organizations and projects that make a difference in the lives of Canadian children and youth. Through the generosity of our customers, the Canada Post Community Foundation is able to fund important programs in communities across the country every year.”

This generous gift was awarded to Strong Start to support of it’s early literacy programs – Letters, Sounds and Words and Get Ready for School. Letters, Sounds and Words mobilizes thousands of community volunteers to help young children, ages 5-7, learn to read. This program is delivered in partnerships with schools and school boards in Waterloo Region and Counties of Wellington, Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk, Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford. Get Ready for School helps prepare disadvantaged preschoolers for a successful entry into school and is delivered in partnerships with community centres. Currently, this program is available in 20 of Waterloo Region’s highest needs neighbourhoods.

Headquartered in Kitchener, ON, Strong Start is a registered Canadian charity committed to helping young children learn to read by providing unique programs and services through community-wide partnerships.  Since 2001, Strong Start has grown to have programs in over 300 sites and has helped over 44,000 children. Annually, Strong Start programs benefit over 5,000 children.

Strong Start is a beautiful example of mobilizing a community to rally around it’s children. Volunteers are essential for implementing Letters, Sounds and Words and the success of the program would not be possible without them. Community volunteers are trained over two, 2-hour sessions before they work one-on-one with a child enrolled in the program. Each child will see a Volunteer Coach twice a week for 30min/session for ten weeks. Every year, the number of volunteers trained continues to rise. To date, over 31,000 volunteers have given more than 535,000 hours of their time, to help young children learn to read.

“The Canada Post Community Foundation has responded generously to our request. Gifts like this enable us to reach more young children, when the greatest impact is possible. Reading is an essential life skill, that when learned early, pays dividends for a lifetime.” – Machelle Denison, Executive Director.

Research shows, 1 in every 4 Canadian children entering Grade 1 is significantly behind his/her peers and poorly prepared to learn. Children experiencing reading difficulties by the end of Grade 1 almost never achieve average reading skills scores by the end of primary school, without special intervention. By the end of Grade 3, 74% of these struggling readers, will never catch up. Strong Start programs reach children early, before they fall behind, get discouraged and disengage from school. Letters, Sounds and Words and Get Ready for School are provided to children and their families at no cost to ensure there is no financial barrier to accessing the programs. Strong Start continues to grow its impact by offering the program to more communities across Ontario.


About Strong Start, Letters, Sounds and Words and Get Ready for School Programs:

Strong Start® Charitable Organization is a registered Canadian charity (82594 8060 RR0001), based in Kitchener, ON. Our vision is All Children Read. Our mission is to help children learn to read by providing unique programs and services through community-wide partnerships. At the same time, we provide a meaningful experience for community volunteers.

Our Letters, Sounds and Words (LSW) program targets children in Senior Kindergarten and Grade One (ages 5-7) who need a literacy boost. These children are selected by their classroom teacher at the first sign of them lagging behind in their early literacy skills. The children are then paired with trained community volunteers who work one-on-one with them, playing carefully designed games and activities over a 10-week period, during the school day. The program is designed in four strands: In the Letters strand, the child learns the names of the letters (upper and lower case). In the Sounds strand, the child learns the sound each letter makes (upper and lower case). In the Words strand, the child learns to recognize 26 words by sight.  In the Building Words strand, the child learns how to blend sounds to decode words as well as build new words. Currently, this program serves approximately 4000 children each year, in 8 regions across Southwestern Ontario, with the help of over 2,900 active volunteers.

Our Get Ready for School (GRFS) program helps prepare disadvantaged preschoolers ages 3-4 for a successful entry into school. Targeting children who are learning English as a Second Language, and/or come from a low-income background, the program helps them acquire essential early literacy skills and practise school readiness behaviours prior to entering Junior Kindergarten. This free program addresses the developmental gap that often exists between children from immigrant and low-socioeconomic homes and their higher-income peers. The curriculum is designed with an intensive focus on the development of language, literacy skills, classroom learning behaviours and self-regulation in children, setting them on a trajectory for positive academic performance and social emotional development. The program also helps engage parents/caregivers in their child’s learning. To learn more about Strong Start, visit

About Canada Post Community Foundation:

The Canada Post Community Foundation for Children’s vision is to help ensure every child in Canada is happy, healthy and part of a community that supports and cares for them. Its mission is to have a positive effect in the lives of children in the communities Canada Post serves by supporting registered charities, school programs or local initiatives that benefit children. It has granted more than $8 million to over 780 community organizations across Canada. To learn more about the Foundation, visit

For more information, contact:

Machelle Denison