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Education Secretary Visits Harrisburg Elementary School, Reads to Students to Highlight Literacy


Harrisburg, PA - Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera today joined leaders from the Harrisburg School District, WITF and the United Way of Pennsylvania to stress the importance of literacy in early childhood development by reading A Snowy Day to students at the Ben Franklin Elementary School.

“Research shows that early education is a proven investment and that students who read on a regular basis do better in school,” said Secretary Rivera. “By providing books to children in communities like Harrisburg, programs like First Book are helping students get the academic resources they need to succeed in school and in life.”

Rivera was joined today by Harrisburg School District Receiver Dr. Janet Samuels and acting Superintendent Christopher Celmer, WITF President and CEO Ron Hetrick, and United Way of Pennsylvania President Kristen Rotz.

In December, WITF Pennsylvania Public Television, in collaboration with the United Way of Pennsylvania, received an award of $170,000 to provide new books and eBooks for children in low-income districts. First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, awarded the funds as part of its OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation.

Since 2014-15, Governor Wolf has increased the investment in early childhood education by $145 million, more than doubling the state investment, to serve 13,550 additional children. In 2019-20, approximately 31,800 children will be served in PA Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program.

Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts provides high-quality pre-kindergarten services to at-risk three- and four-year-old children at no cost to families. Children living in families earning up to 300 percent of poverty, or a family of four earning $77,250 annually, are eligible to apply. Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts is offered in school districts, Keystone STARS 3 and 4 child-care programs, Head Start programs, and licensed nursery schools.

Pennsylvania’s Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program provides state funding to Head Start programs to serve three- and four-year-old children living in families at or below 100 percent of poverty, or a family of four earning $25,750 annually. The programs provide comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services aligned to the federal program requirements.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website. Follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, or Pinterest.

MEDIA CONTACT: Eric Levis - 717-783-9802 or

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