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Parent Reading Coach

Giving parents the tools and knowledge to teach their children how to read.

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Social Innovations Partners, LLC ( Social Innovations Partners has provided the start-up funding to launch parent reading coach which is composed of parent training videos (free); online practice application (free); and early literacy books that are systematic and make sense to kids learning to read; and in-depth training manuals.


We are located in the Greater Philadelphia Area. However, we've created the model with the intentions of it being accessible everywhere and therefore scalable. The training videos are online. The practice application are web based. The training manuals and early reader books can be shipped. The model is based upon a train the trainer model for parents.

What is your stage of development?

  • Early Stage Innovator, with at least one-year experience in ECD


  • For - Profit

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Describe your submission in one clear sentence

ParentReadingCoach™ demystifies the reading process and gives parents and caregivers the guidance, knowledge and tools to teach the foundations of reading to their own children.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

Parents need to become consumers of education and the strategy to do this is to give them the same knowledge experienced educators have on the early literacy process. Parents demanding that an education system that adapts to the learning style and level of their child will be how we create sustainable system change across our country. At the very least children who are becoming less and less literate in our formal systems will not suffer when we give their primary stakeholder - their parents - what they need to guarantee their success.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Product: A new or enhanced physical product that creates value for end beneficiaries.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

ParentReadingCoach is also a practical literacy training and early literacy books for parents who need a practical approach and compliments literacy theory. ParentReadingCoach™ is informed by 30+ years of educating children with literacy challenges and the evidenced based Orton Gillingham method. ParentReadingCoach™ is phonetic based, breaking down the English language into 8 primary foundational levels/skills needed to read. Once these 8 foundational levels/skills are mastered, students are able to read and work toward building literacy fluency. The guidebooks, early literacy books, and training videos, and web-based practice application provide a scaffolding structure and follows the following sequence: 1. Association of consonants and vowels with sounds 2. Joining of beginning consonants with short vowels 3. Joining of beginning and end consonants with short vowels 4. Association of blends with sounds 5. Joining of blends with short vowel 6. Association of diagraphs with sounds 7. Joining of digraphs with short vowel 8. Silent E Rule 9. Vowel Reference Card and Joining of all vowel combinations with sounds 10. Reading Multi-syllable Words Parents can use this as complimentary to existing education systems or as the primary tool if they choose to not participate in formal education systems (homeschooling)

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

It’s estimated that one in five students has a language-based learning disability (Twenty-Ninth Annual Report to Congress, U.S. Department of Education, 2010) . According to Hultquist (2008) dyslexia is the most common of the language-based learning disabilities affecting an estimated 10-15% of the population. Over 40% of students with learning disabilities drop out of school and a high proportion end up in the criminal justice system.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

INSPIRE PARENTS TO ACT: We believe in the power of PARENTS to educate and guide their children in the learning process. We do this by giving parents the knowledge and tools that decreases their dependence on formal educational systems. We do this because we know that millions of caring parents have voiced their frustrations on behalf of their children who are forced into a one size fits all educational system. We do this because we demand an educational system that adapts to a child’s learning style, teaches them at their respective academic level, and allows them to pursue their academic passions and interests. We do this because parents are asking for a roadmap to take control of their child’s educational experience. WE PUBLISHED ONLINE PARENT TRAINING VIDEOS ( WE DESIGNED AND CREATED AN ONLINE PRACTICE APPLICATION TO ENSURE FIDELITY TO THE MODEL ( WE PUBLISHED PRIMER, CORE, AND MASTERY TRAINING MANUALS WRITTEN FOR PARENTS TO USE WITH THEIR CHILDREN ( WE PUBLISHED EARLY LITERACY BOOKS (COLLECTIONS 1-6 + FLASHCARDS ARE PUBLISHED AND COLLECTIONS 7-12 WILL BE PUBLISHED IN FEBRUARY 2018) THAT FOLLOW A LOGICAL SEQUENCE TO TEACH CHILDREN HOW TO READ. EVERY OTHER PRODUCT ON THE MARKET DOESN'T TEACH KIDS HOW TO READ SYSTEMATICALLY. WE JOINED SOCIAL PARENT AND PROFESSIONAL NETWORKS OF EARLY LITERACY AND DYSLEXIA REPRESENTING 100,000+ MEMBERS. WE HAVE SET UP INITIAL EXPLORATORY MEETINGS WITH EARLY CHILDHOOD PROVIDERS; LIBRARY SYSTEMS IN PHILADELPHIA AND CHICAGO; AND INTERMEDIARIES LIKE UNITED WAY WHO ARE FOCUSED ON THE EARLY LITERACY OUTCOMES.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

Primary Target is parents with a specific focus of parents of children with reading differences. Secondary Target is teachers who are motivated to gain practical skills to teaching students how to read. We've trained hundreds of teachers and worked with public, charter, special education and private education institutions. What we have found is that the primary stakeholder and motivated individual to change a child's educational trajectory is the parent. Our experience tells us that all parents are motivated when it comes to their children. By redirecting some of a parent's energy focused on advocacy and fighting for their child, we can give parents practical solutions that directly impacts their child.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

We will move the needle on the 20% of children with reading differences and who are not able to get to a 3rd grade reading level and therefore can read to learn. When parents adapt this model they will influence teachers and classrooms and we will start to see children's literacy rates increase dramatically across the country. Most importantly, parents will no longer need to feel helpless and can teach their child to read thereby building his/her confidence and success in school. Schools and teachers need easy to use and practical tools to teach children how to read. Schools and teachers need the engagement and help of parents to reach the diverse needs of all students in a classroom. Parent Reading Coach serves as this bridge.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

We still need to move the web-based practice application into an app form so that low-income children can benefit. Most low-income parents now have access to a smart phone and if we are able to deliver it in this form then they can then give it to their kids and potentially learn how to read themselves (assuming they need to learn how to read).

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

Our business model is based upon the sales of early literacy books that incorporates some basic foundational training for parents. We have a margin of approximately $3/book with a total of 12 books in the early literacy collection. Assuming a family purchases the full set then we are collecting $36/family. Every year new families are entering the early literacy marketplace ensuring a continual cycle of new customers. Our primary barriers are developing new markets as our books are not written for "great literature" but for giving kids practical books that teach incremental skills. Parents currently purchase books for their visuals and great stories and have been told just to read a great amount to their children. We need to encourage parents to purchase books that have a systematic approach to reading and shift parents to be educators. For low income students our primary barrier is to get systems to adopt/purchase the books. Systems tend to only purchase from established distributors (i.e. scholastic) and often can't purchase what is practical.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

We are currently a team of 4 people. 1.5 of the team members are dedicated to ParentReadingCoach full time as we are developing and testing the market. 2 of the team members (both full time teachers) are poised to support ParentReadingCoach if the demand grows. Our scaling plan is composed of supporting and training parents who can then support and train other parents. As the movement grows our primary role will be packaging books for sale and providing more sophisticated online trainings and practice application.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

The idea originated from 30 years of working with frustrated parents outside the formal educational systems and from my own children who called the current early literacy books on the market "stupid" as they combine small and big words in a random fashion. Working in the early childhood space is exciting because this is when parents first ask themselves the question on how to teach their children how to read. If we catch parents here we can prevent much of the low literacy rates we are currently experiencing. I've been a teacher and founded two charter schools. My partner has worked for more than 45 years the education space but usually intervenes when parents reach out to her in desperation after the educational systems weren't able to help.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)

Yes and no. We have the educators on board. What we are missing is marketing expertise to develop new markets. We should note that we are not opposed, as an exit strategy, to sell our product to an existing company (scholastic) if it meant it would move our product into the market place faster.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

We mostly need a sales/marketing force to help develop a new markets and penetrate existing markets via conferences and speaking engagements. Eventually we will also need a researcher to measure the reading progress of students who used our produce vs. those who didn't use our product to demonstrate that parents are the key to increase literacy rates.

Would you like mentoring support? [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]

  • Yes

If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters) [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]

Marketing within the educational markets

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).

Nicholas (Nick) Torres, M.Ed., has over 20 years of experience in executive management. He built and led one of the largest and nationally recognized human services organizations; founded two charter schools and a nonprofit dedicated in scaling high-impact social enterprises (e.g. school based health centers; college access and completion pipelines; and early literacy technology platform); founded and currently leads a social sector “think-tank” organization.

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Karlos L. Marshall

Hello Nicholas,
Similarly to Katie's comment, I was going to suggest reaching out to your local libraries. Have you considered local libraries as a possible marketing tool? With many libraries hosting weekend and after school reading groups and programs, it may be beneficial to offer the program at a discounted rate to a few libraries to pilot. Especially in the large library systems that you are meeting with, Chicago and Philadelphia, having a few libraries pilot the program could lead to more libraries in the system purchasing the program. Best of luck with your meetings!

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