Reading and Beyond, in partnership with Fresno Unified School District, began the Even Start Family Literacy Program at Balderas Elementary School in 2009. Balderas Elementary is located near the Fresno Fairgrounds in Southeast Fresno, and many of the families served by Balderas are English learners with incomes below the poverty level.

Currently, the program serves 34 families. Reading and Beyond’s Even Start program is the only comprehensive family literacy program in Fresno Unified School District.

The purpose of the Even Start program is to help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by improving educational opportunities for low-income families, through planning and coordination of services which help parents gain the skills needed to become full partners in the education of their young children. The program is designed to improve the academic achievement of young children and their parents by integrating the following four components into a comprehensive family literacy program:

  1. Bullet Early Childhood Education

  2. Bullet Adult Literacy (through instruction for English Language Learners)

  3. Bullet Parenting Education

  4. Bullet Parent-Child Interactive Literacy Activities

The Even Start Program works closely with the Fresno Unified School District, the State Preschool located at Balderas Elementary and community partners to promote academic achievement and success and to provide literacy support to parents having limited English proficiency and their children, primarily birth through age seven, and has three related goals:


  1. Bullet To help parents improve their literacy and English language skills

  2. Bullet To help parents become full partners in educating their children

  3. Bullet To assist children in reaching their full potential as learners

Comprehensive family literacy services are provided year-round and include:

  1. Bullet Daily ESL instruction for parents

  2. Bullet Daily early childhood enrichment classes

  3. Bullet Daily Pre-K instruction

  4. Bullet Parent and Child Interactive Literacy Activities (PACILA)

  5. Bullet Parent Education

  6. Bullet Home Visitations

  7. Bullet Monthly Family Literacy Night Activities

  8. Bullet School-age literacy program

Program success is measured using several formal assessment instruments at the beginning and end of the school year, including CASAS and PEP assessments of the adults and DRDP, PPVT and PALS assessments of the children, as well as by parent feedback from individual families and through the Parent Advisory Committee, which consists of 5 elected participant families that meet monthly with program staff.  Individual family goals are also assessed and progress monitored and updated by each parent through frequent goal planning sessions during parent education classes.

For more information, contact:

Katie Crawford

Even Start Program Coordinator


Even Start

Family Literacy Program

Even Start Success Spotlight

Julissa and Katherine