Business Number: 825948060RR0001

When you give a gift to help a child learn to read, you give a gift for a lifetime.

About Strong Start

Our mission at Strong Start is to provide programs and services through community-wide partnerships that help young children learn to read. Our vision is All children read – a very short statement but a very tall order. Experiences in the family and in early learning environments have a critical influence on a child’s long-term development. Strong Start programs provide an early intervention, reaching children early, before they fall behind, get discouraged and disengage from school. To date, over 44,000 children have been supported by Strong Start early literacy programs.

Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic

It is likely that struggling readers will experience even great difficulties when school reopens after such a long break from classroom learning. Each year, 5,000 children are helped by Strong Start programs and its 3,000 volunteers. It is anticipated that the number of children needing help with reading will increase. Strong Start will be there for these children during the recovery from the pandemic.

Strong Start programs are provided free of charge because of the generous support of the community.

Letters, Sounds and Words™

Our Letters, Sounds and Words Program ( is delivered in partnership with school boards and schools in multiple communities in Ontario. This 10-week program targets children in Senior Kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2 who are lagging behind in their early reading skills. Children are matched with trained community volunteers who go into the school to work one-on-one with them, playing carefully designed games and activities. The program is designed in 4 strands to help children learn the names of letters, a sound each letter represents, how to recognize words by sight and how to build a word using the sounds of its letters. Classroom teachers select which children would most benefit from this program, as well as the strands in which they should be enrolled.

Get Ready for School™

The Get Ready for School Program ( is delivered in partnership with local community centres across Waterloo Region. The program, which consists of 44 two-hour classes, is delivered by trained instructors and volunteers who work with children ages 3-4 from January or February to June, just prior to their start in Junior Kindergarten. This highly effective research-based program was created by Dr. Iuliana Baciu and is particularly beneficial for children who have the challenges of English as a second language or for children from low to middle income families. The program focuses on helping children develop essential early literacy skills. The emphasis on increasing vocabulary, letter-sound knowledge and classroom learning behaviours are all essential building blocks for children as they prepare to enter their formal school experience.

Baby Connections™

Baby Connections ( is a free community program that helps families develop literacy and language skills with their babies. This fun, interactive program shares information and coaching for parent/caregivers and provides quality resources that support their baby’s brain development and lay the pathways for language and emergent literacy skills. These are all foundational to later success in school and in life. Families participating in the Baby Connections program receive a free kit of quality resources to use with their baby. The green bag includes books, a download code for a music CD, a quality toy to promote language, and tips and strategies for critical face to face interactions which include singing reading, playing and talking.

Your gift will help children learn to read.

What People Are Saying

"The program just became another part of what she did at school, but it contributed so much to what she was able to do from that point on. I saw a change in her and now when I see her with all her books curled up and reading….I think that was a little girl who couldn’t read going into grade 1."

— Susan Cook-Scheerer, Parent, Letters, Sounds and Words program, Read More

"There’s no better way to say this other than you have given my son a Strong Start to life. Thank you."

— Fadhwa Yusuf, Parent, “Get Ready for School” program, Read More

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