Skip to main content

KU's Yalow joins White House to bridge the word gap

PORTLAND, Ore. (October 16, 2014) – Dr. Elanna Yalow, Knowledge Universe® CEO of Early Learning Programs, joined a select group of public and the private sector leaders today at a White House workshop aimed at increasing literacy for disadvantaged children and closing the word gap that results in future educational disparities.

Yalow joined policy makers and leaders from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Too Small to Fail, and the Urban Institute for the event aimed at sharing federal, state and local best practices to bridge the word gap.

“Increasing awareness of this issue can only help our nation’s youngest children,” Dr. Yalow said. “Each time a parent reads to their baby, teaches new words to their toddler, and helps an older child learn to recognize their letters and read on their own, that parent is helping to set their child on the path to future success.”

Research has shown that significant disparities in a child’s exposure to language impacts their vocabulary growth, and in turn, their ability to learn to read and write. In today’s workshop, Yalow and other leaders discussed the latest national research on effective interventions and innovative efforts that address the word gap.

In the United States, a child from a professional family hears an average of 215,000 words per week, while a child from a more economically disadvantaged family only hears, on average, 62,000 words per week. By the time a child is three years old, a child from a more advantaged home will have heard 30 million more words than a child from a lower income family. That child will be better able to grasp the fundamentals of reading and will be at a significant advantage when they enter school. This word gap can have significant adverse consequences for our children’s future.

“All parents want the best for their children. Our teachers know how important it is to expose children to a language- and word-rich environment during the time they spend in KU centers building their language and literacy skills through reading and talking,” Yalow said.

Knowledge Universe® believes that the power of education changes lives. Every day more than 173,000 children take their first steps, learn to read and prepare for school through our early childhood and school-age programs. The Knowledge Universe® family includes KinderCare® Learning Centers, CCLC®, Champions®, and Knowledge Beginnings®, where more than 31,000 people help children discover books, music, science, and language in a nurturing environment. To learn more, visit us online at

See All Press Releases

Media Contact:
Colleen Moran
(503) 872-1631