KHF launches new literacy campaign “Can’t Wait to Read”

February 18, 2019

Media Contact Kristi Zukovich, 316-491-8419

WICHITA, Kan. (Feb. 19, 2019) – The Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) launched Can’t Wait to Read, a statewide campaign showing parents and caregivers why their kids need to experience reading, starting when they are just a few months old. The campaign also elevates the abundant reading resources available across the state and lets parents know they have what it takes to give their kids a successful future.

“Reading skills impact more than report cards. Grade-level reading is a key indicator of whether children will go down a road to success or face a lifetime of challenges,” said Steve Coen, KHF president and CEO. “Today’s families are busier than ever and competing priorities make it difficult to devote time to reading. But, the window for early learning closes quickly and if children don’t start building their reading skills before they enter school, it could be too late.”

KHF has identified educational attainment as a key indicator to health outcomes for the people of Kansas. Lower education levels result in lower socioeconomic status, which means increased levels of tobacco use, higher rates of obesity and a lack of health insurance coverage. In addition to the impact on health, children’s literacy rates affect the economic viability of Kansas communities.

The Research Shows a Need for Urgent Parent and Caregiver Attention

  • 63 percent of Kansas fourth graders are not reading at grade level.1
  • Research shows that children who don’t read at grade level by the time they enter fourth grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school2 and two-thirds of them will likely end up in prison or poverty.3
  • At this rate, of the more than 140,000 Kindergarten through third-grade students enrolled in Kansas public schools during the 2018-19 school year, approximately 90,000 Kansas children are at risk.4

“There’s a direct connection between early reading and graduation rates which leads to a prepared workforce, and in turn, the economic success of Kansas in the 21st century,” said C. Patrick Woods, board member for KHF and the Kansas Association of School Boards. “But this work can’t start in the third grade. Imagine what could be if we each stepped up – as early as we can – to spend time reading with our children. The ripple effect would positively impact our students, our workforce and our state.”

Arming Parents and Caregivers with Easy, Doable Tips for Everyday Use

The campaign will run into the summer months to combat the “summer slide” – when kids’ reading abilities decline once school is out of session.

To kick off the campaign, Kansas parents will see:

  • TV spots, billboards, radio and social media messages directing parents and caregivers to English and Spanish messaging will be included.
  •, a mobile-friendly site where visitors can learn more and sign up for 28 days of texts featuring free tips, resources and information about other organizations that can help their kids learn.
  • Social media experiences including augmented reality stickers and photo frames parents can use to spread the message that their kids “Can’t Wait to Read.”

The campaign will also bring attention to the abundant literacy organizations, resources and tools available to parents across Kansas.

“When we talked with Kansas parents, they told us they’re short on time. They weren’t sure how to fit reading into their already busy parenting routines. But they got excited when we showed them it doesn’t have to be a daunting task,” said Coen. “Through this campaign, we’re equipping them with quick, easy reading tools they can use on the go and at home. With the right resources and information, they can give their little ones a running start – even before they get to school age.”


News Release

TV Script

Photo Cutlines


Monica Solis and her daughter Susanna participate in a Parents as Teachers home visit. A core component of Parents as Teachers, the home visit brings parent coordinators into a family’s home and helps equip parents with the skills and tools to help build their children’s literacy skills.

Parents and children participate in a Parents as Teachers playgroup at the Pine Ridge complex. Parents as Teachers host playgroups for parents and their children to engage in learning activities together.

Kansas Health Foundation is launching a new campaign – Can’t Wait To Read – to raise awareness among Kansas parents and caregivers to the literacy challenge Kansas finds itself in.

Kansas Health Foundation is launching a new campaign – Can’t Wait To Read – to raise awareness among Kansas parents and caregivers to the literacy challenge Kansas finds itself in.

Kansas Health Foundation is launching a new campaign – Can’t Wait To Read – to raise awareness among Kansas parents and caregivers to the literacy challenge Kansas finds itself in.

Kansas Health Foundation Logo - Horizontal

Kansas Health Foundation Logo - Vertical

Multimedia Downloads

To view and download all multimedia files associated with this campaign, please visit this digital folder.


1 – 2017 NAEP Reading Report Card

2 – ExcelInEd Policy Toolkit 2019

3 – The National Assessment of Adult Literacy

4 – KSDE 2018-2019 Headcount Enrollment (Unaudited) – Public Districts

About the Kansas Health Foundation

The Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) is a nonprofit organization based in Wichita but statewide in its focus. At KHF, all our work centers on our mission: to improve the health of all Kansans. As part of a new strategic framework, developed by our staff and board of directors, KHF also strives to accomplish three primary purposes: empower Kansas to lead the nation in health; eliminate the inequities that create health disparities; and, for KHF to become THE model for philanthropic impact.

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