What is HIKE?

HIKE (Help Instill the Key to Education) is an innovative intervention program to the problem of the reading proficiency. With only 5% of fourth graders in Phoenix Family’s programs reading at grade level, greater intervention is critical to increasing the literacy rate and ensuring that each child reaches the appropriate reading level as quickly as possible and, at the minimum, continues to read at level in the future.

Literacy-Based Programming

Studies show that children do best when there is a balance between seriousness and play in literacy. A playful approach to learning, from playing word games to incorporating vocabulary learning, reading and writing into activities like pretend play, cooking, photography, physical movement and sports is one of the key differences between a good program and a great one. In a literacy-infused program, children are encouraged to “play” with language, vocabulary and word meanings. And, when children are allowed to play with words and play with writing, they come to see literacy as something they own setting the stage for leaps in literacy proficiency.

Low-Literacy Readers

Providing targeted, structured, individualized attention is critical to increasing the reading proficiency of low-level readers. Each location has a unique Reading Lab. The Lab is a space designed with kids in mind — it's a place to be enjoyed as well as to learn. Here in the Labs, kids receive one-on-one help from volunteer Reading Coaches. The Lab’s work focusses equally on basic skills deficits and psychological issues related to failure to learn to read (such as feelings of helplessness, shame or humiliation around reading and writing)


Volunteers are a critical component to the success of HIKE. Research shows that children thrive under the individual attention of caring adult. In HIKE, volunteers not only help with general programming and youth development activities but with more specialized activities as well. In particular, the reading lab relies on volunteer Reading coaches to act both as tutors as well as role models in order to reach the greatest number of children and have the greatest impact on the individual child. Learn more about volunteering with us!

Outcomes Driven

HIKE is an outcome-driven program. The overall goal of HIKE is to have 90% of the children in our program reading at grade-level in order to set the stage for higher high school graduation rates. For the initial year of the program, we anticipate that the program will have the following impacts:

  1. 75% of children who are low-proficiency readers will increase their proficiency by one grade level over 12 months as indicated through i-Ready assessment testing.
  2. 80% of children who attend the reading lab will demonstrate improved attitudes towards reading as indicated through pre- and post-surveys.
  3. 60% of children in the program will show an increased interest in reading as indicated through percentage of children who read for pleasure.
  4. 90% of children who participate in reading lab activities will have increased positive relationships with adults as indicated through the Social Skills with Peers Survey.

Join us in breaking the literacy gap

What if every child reached their full potential? Think how amazing that would be.
Come join us in making that a reality.

Get Involved Today