Mayor Warren's 3-to-3 Initiative


Mayor Lovely Warren’s 3 to 3 Initiative

Based on recommendations from the Early Learning Council

Dear Children,

I believe in you, and so do many other good people in our city. We want you to continue to grow to your full potential and enjoy the brightest future ever. Just as you are always learning, so are we... and one thing we have learned is nothing is more important to setting you on a course for the best possible education than the “3 to 3” years, age 3 to grade 3. The Early Learning Council, and I have been working together to find ways to support you during this important time. This page is more than a collection of ideas – it is our pledge to you to do the best we can to make sure you get off to a great start in education, and in your life.

I want to thank all the members of the Early Learning Council who contributed their time and talent to the accompanying report. But when I convened the Council, it was never my intention to produce a report that would sit on the shelf. My intention was always, and remains, to put this good work into a doable action plan on behalf of Rochester’s youngest citizens.

-- Mayor Lovely A. Warren

A case for 3-to-3

If a child—especially a low-income child—isn’t reading by third grade, he or she is much less likely to graduate high school, statistics show.

Mayor Lovely Warren unveiled a new education plan, a cornerstone of her administration and of her agenda as mayor, with the goal of getting all third graders not just reading, but reading at grade level, by the end of third grade. The plan is based on recommendations from the Early Learning Council, which she convened when she took office this year.

The initiative is called 3 to 3, because it focuses on children ages 3 to third grade. The plan is based on recommendations from the Early Learning Council, which she convened when she took office this year.

The Early Learning Council made four key recommendations that Warren’s initiative is based on:

  1. For the City to fund programming gaps before and after Pre-K.
  2. For the Mayor to become an advocate for additional resources.
  3. For City Hall and the Mayor to take a larger role in building public trust, and
  4. Empower parents



“Children are our most precious assets and we must do everything we can to nurture and protect them and be certain that they have properly developed physically, cognitively and emotionally by the time they finish the third grade,” Warren said.
Warren’s plan empowers parents, but provides them with plenty of assistance. This starts with a tool that will help parents understand what their children should know; and when. She is developing this with ROC the Future.


“It only makes sense that an education plan is parent-centered. As parents, you’re the ones who are there when your child gets up in the morning. You know when something is wrong. You know just how smart they are, and what gets them motivated. And you are the ones who are there with a bedtime story when the day is done.”

The mayor is also working with County Executive Maggie Brooks to restore childcare subsidies so that low-income families can afford quality childcare which can help learning, and adding new programming through libraries and recreation centers to curb summer learning loss and increase literacy skills during the school year.

The Warren plan is centered on reading. So she will also provide a free book to parents each quarter through the libraries and recreation centers, and develop Early Learning Spaces in libraries and recreation centers so parents can read to their children.
Mayor Warren’s daughter, Taylor, is 4, so she understands firsthand what it is like to be a parent of a small child in Rochester.

“My daughter is four,” Warren said. “Next year she’ll enroll in Kindergarten. As a parent, I can feel the time slipping away.”

She added: “I believe in the children and families in our city, and so do many other good people. We want them to grow to their full potential and enjoy their brightest future ever.”

“ I also want to thank the members of the Early Learning Council and all those who took part in their process. Their good work will not sit in a report on a shelf. I will put their efforts into a doable action plan on behalf of Rochester’s youngest citizens,” she concluded.

Mayor Warren introduces the “3 to 3 Initiative” (3-years-old to 3rd grade)

The 3 to 3 Initiative has been created to address the recommendations contained in the report from the Early Learning Council. The goal of the initiative is to give every 3-year-old in the City of Rochester the opportunity to develop the academic and social skills necessary to succeed in school and in life by the time that 3-year-old completes 3rd grade.

Why age 3?

In our community, we are blessed with a wealth of programs for children ages 0-2. But according to Perinatal Healthy Moms and other research, children benefit significantly from high quality education programs starting at age 3. We want to bridge that gap.

Why 3rd grade?

These are the formative years. Recent studies point to a direct correlation between academic and social skills development by the end of 3rd grade and high school graduation rates.

According to a study by The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a student who can’t read by the end of 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who can read proficiently.

Low-income Students

For low-income students, reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade is even more critical. Low-income students who struggle to read by the end of 3rd grade are 13 times less likely to graduate by age 19 than their more affluent counterparts. The national average for 3rd grade proficiency for Black students is 14 percent for Latino students 19 percent. In the Rochester City School District by the end of 3rd grade only 4 percent of the Black and 3 percent of the Latino students are proficient in reading and math.

Four Measures

Now you begin to see the depth of the problem and why we can’t wait. I want the Rochester community to join me in adopting a broad, comprehensive set of criteria to reach our goal. I will use four standard measures to gauge our progress and success. They are the four developmental areas laid out in the Annie E. Casey Foundation policy report, Kids Count, The First Eight Years. They are: Cognitive Knowledge and Skills; Social Development; Engagement in School; and Physical Well-Being.

Community Resources

Separate agencies and institutions in Rochester have existing programs designed to address these issues:

  • Cognitive Knowledge and Skills
    • City School District
    • Childrens’ Institute
    • NY State Department of Education)
  • Social Development
    • ECDI
    • Children’s Institute;
  • Engagement in School
    • City School District
  • Physical Well-Being
    • Greater Rochester Health Foundation
    • Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency 

My office will bring all stakeholders and the data together and take a comprehensive look at all of the pieces. Since these programs and their measurement data already exist, the need for additional resources to bring it all together would be minimal.

Again, I want to thank everyone across the community – from parents to providers to the Early Learning Council members for your participation in this process. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership to build a better future for our children.

Early Learning Council Recommendation 1

There was strong consensus among Council members and stakeholders who gave testimony that the City of Rochester’s priority should be funding programming gaps before and after Pre-K.

Mayor’s Initiatives

  • The City will allocate funds within the Department of Recreation and Youth Services (DRYS) and our Libraries to develop programs to stem summer learning loss and develop enrichment programs during the school year to increase literacy skills. Conventional wisdom is that it is better for a 3-year-old to be in a high quality educational setting rather than at home.
  • The loss of the childcare subsidies makes it difficult for low-income families to afford quality childcare. I will work with the County Executive to advocate for the restoration of childcare subsidies and asking the state to develop a new funding formula.
  • The City is in discussions to develop a children’s scholarship fund. As the discussions progress we will add a provision to have the scholarship fund cover all or a portion of the lost subsidy for 3-year-olds.
  • The City will support the screening workgroup in their effort to screen 3-year-olds with the aim of identifying developmental delays and intervening where appropriate. The goal is to improve the readiness level of 3-year-olds as they start school.
  • Ask corporations to adopt a City Recreation Center

Community Partners

  • Monroe County Executive Screening Work Group
  • Children’s Institute
  • ECDI
  • Wegmans

Early Learning Council Recommendation 2

In addition to advocating for adequate funding, we believe the Mayor can play an important role in addressing resource disparity between the public and private Pre-K providers by considering the following recommendations:

Mayor’s Initiatives

  • The housing credit program is already in existence for all teachers in City schools. We will join with the City School District to better advertise the program. We will also look into offering the program to teachers working in community based organizations and charter schools.
  • We will also work to promote the tuition savings program. This program already exists through the Pathstone’s Save for Success Program with Monroe Community College and ESL. It needs to be promoted more and offered more extensively. The Mayor will advocate for a more balanced funding formula for private providers.

Community Partners

  • Rochester City School District
  • Area Financial Institutions
  • Area Colleges
  • Community Based Organizations Charter Schools

Early Learning Council Recommendation 3

The ELC firmly believes that public confidence is vital to sustaining a vibrant and fully funded Pre-K program and that City Hall can and should play an important role ensuring the public’s trust.

Mayor’s Initiatives

  • The Mayor has joined ROC the Future and will work with ROC the Future and other institutions to develop a quality assessment tool for children that can be given to parents. This assessment tool or progress report is aimed at answering the question of what a child should know and when. It should also be easily understood by parents and available for distribution at City recreation centers, libraries and website. This toolkit will be given out to parents at the beginning of the school year.

Community Partners

  • ROC the Future

Early Learning Council Recommendation 4

The Mayor should lead a shift away from traditional parent involvement toward authentic parent empowerment and leadership, similar to Head Start’s parent involvement and aligned with the City’s work on the National League of Cities Educational Alignment project.

Mayor’s Initiatives

  • The Mayor will engage parents early. At the birth of their child. An example of that early engagement is the book from the Mayor and Rochester School Board President which will serve as a resource guide and map to success for parents.
  • Launch Rochester Families Read to encourage parents to read to their child every day. Under the program, each quarter we will provide a free book, which is age appropriate, that a parent can pick up at a Recreation Center or Library. We will write a grant to enable us to give a book each quarter to any family that asks.
  • We will create Early Learning Spaces. Safe spaces for parents to read and play with their children at our Libraries and Recreation Centers. We will refine and expand the model to recreation centers. Our Libraries are already in training to develop this.
  • Utilize Libraries and Recreation Centers as a place where parents can enroll their 4-year-old and 5-year-old for school. We will have early childhood navigators on site to assist parents with the application.
  • Develop a web resource guide that parents can use to find information about education options near their residence. This web application will contain information about district schools, charter schools, private schools and parochial schools. From Pre-K all the way to 12th grade. The site will be modeled after the Great Philly Schools site and readily accessible from the City’s website.

Community Partners

  • Rochester Perinatal Network National League of Cities RCSD
  • Community Based Organizations.

Five Keys to Success for New Parents

Help your Children Succeed Right from the Beginning. Here are five things new parents can do to help get their children started on a path to early learning.

  1. Read to your children
  2. Take your child to the pediatrician
  3. Feed your child nutritious food
  4. Enroll your child in a quality learning program by age 3
  5. Create a safe learning environment and model good behavior

Download the 5 Keys Booklet