Have you ever wanted to do something AMAZING to change the world but didn't know where to start?
Here is an opportunity to help underprivileged children, to help under-served children, to help ALL children displaced from school by COVID-19, to help close the opportunity gap in America, by closing the education gap, by closing the literacy gap that looms large, like an impassable crevasse, separating the haves from the have-nots, the rich, the almost rich, the upper middle class, even the middle class, from the more than 100 million lower class, lower middle class, working class poor, impoverished and underprivileged Americans.
We are looking for a few very special people, with funding and business development experience, either in the corporate or non-profit arena, either as an entrepreneur or upper tier management, preferably in the technology sphere, who have the skills, expertise, experience, passion, and time to be part of something amazing that is about to fundamentally change the lives of millions of children.
Right now, millions of children have no hope; but soon, they will have the opportunity to learn how to read, which, in turn, will open a window to education and to a world of potential for them that, not only, has never been opened before, but that has never even been seriously contemplated as a viable, potential reality.
What we are talking about is an adaptive learning, gamified smartphone app, called FUNetix (www.FUNetix.org), that can teach children how to read, in their own home, in an average of just 12 hours of total instruction time!
We are the American Youth Literacy Foundation, and we have been teaching children how to read for 12 years using a patented "reading decoding system!" We have been developing this app for about two years (but started concepting and working on prototypes almost five years ago); and this year we will launch this incredible smartphone app in the App Store and on Google Play at or around Thanksgiving, 2020, to help save millions of children from a lifetime of illiteracy!
Already, there are millions of children who are struggling to learn how to read. Already, there are millions more who have given up on reading and are destined to go through life either completely illiterate, or with only semi-literate skills at best. And now with the displacement of 55 million children from school, for an indeterminate amount of time, the loss of reading capacity of the next generation, and the "seemingly incessant," "widening of the gap," presents a new "crisis moment" in American education, and a very real threat to the future success (in school, and in life) of millions of young children.
But we believe there IS a way to bridge that gap, to make this a "watershed moment" instead of a crisis moment , by stopping that gap from widening. Universal access to literacy through FUNetix will close the opportunity gap by closing the education gap by closing the literacy gap to near zero. What happens after that, can only be imagined: a virtuous cycle of communication and learning, perhaps, between teachers and students, in ALL of America’s schools and classrooms. And what happens after that? An entire generation of nearly 100% literate young people of all races, religions, creeds, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds will, quite inevitably, reform the social fabric of the American landscape for the good, and for the benefit of innumerable generations to come.
According to the U.S. Government’s "Annual Report Card," more than 20 million children in grades 3-12, in America's public schools today, can't read at anything close to a proficient level! Translated into "English," that means they are either completely illiterate ("Below Basic:" 24%), or functionally illiterate/ semi-literate ("Basic:" 43%). Fully more than half of all America’s public-school-educated children have between zero and minimal literacy skills. This travesty exists in spite of the fact that, as a nation, we spend more than $11,000 per year, per student, to deliver a public school "education." Just over 24% of all students drop out of public school, most of them in 9th grade. That's 1 million per year!
Since the year 2000, we have "graduated" more than 20 million illiterate "students" into the U.S. economy, into our socio-economic and socio-political marketplace of ideas without hope and without basic survival skills. Without literacy, and without education, these young people have no chance at fulfilling their personal potential; and economic security is simply unattainable. That’s all about to change!
We are partnered with an engineering team that was one of the five, $1 million finalists in the XPrize for Global Learning competition (the winners of which were announced in May, 2019) named Pubbly (www.Pubbly.com). The XPrize for Global Learning was a $15 million worldwide competition created to allow app "design and development" teams from around the world to build and deliver a tablet-based app to children in remote villages in Africa, that could teach them how to read and do basic math (children of all ages, most of whom had never been to school before in their lives).
The XPrize was founded by Peter Diamandis and is credited with launching the commercial space industry, including SpaceX, with the original XPrize of $10 million, created to incent teams from around the world to build a rocket that could reach low earth orbit without help from NASA or any governmental space agency or nation state; and SpaceX's founder, Elon Musk is a key benefactor and contributor to XPrize, and a close personal friend of Peter Diamandis, who, in addition to being the founder of XPrize, is also the founder of Singularity University, among other entities.
Pubbly competed in the 2015-2019 XPrize for Global Literacy; and the American Youth Literacy Foundation, ( www.YouthLit.org ) dba FUNetix, FUNetix.org and the FUNetix Reading App, competed in the 2015-2020 XPrize for Adult Literacy. FUNetix and Pubbly met through our mutual participation in XPrize; and XPrize specifically encourages open source, collaborative cooperation and sharing of assets among all of its competitors. The goal is to improve the world, solve global, intractable problems, and share information and ideas to make humanity and human lives better! As an offspring of two, separate XPrize competitions, FUNetix is a perfect example of collaborative partnering between teams of people originally brought together to begin exploring an advanced technological solution to global illiteracy and global educational challenges.
The American Youth Literacy Foundation, dba FUNetix, is a 12 year old, nationwide, charitable 501 (c) (3) non-profit. We started out as a tutoring program in the regional Philadelphia, Central New Jersey area and we still provide some one-on-one tutoring. But our focus has always been on finding a scalable solution to the literacy crisis in America.
With the rise of the smartphone and the amazing penetration of this incredibly powerful, and ubiquitously critical tool (currently estimated at 80%), even into the most impoverished communities in America, we realized several years ago, that the answer to scalability we had been searching for, was going to be in the form of an app. So for the past several years we have been working to convert our amazing reading curriculum, that teaches children how to read in an average of just 12 hours, into an app that teaches children how to read in about the same time. And this is where you come in.
The curriculum that our app is based on is a patented reading decoding system, and is so effective at teaching children how to read, that it usually only takes 4-6 hours for them to understand the basic reading-learning system, (which includes a FUN, but intensive introduction to all 44 sounds of the English language, and the basic concept of blending sound symbols into words), and another 4-6 hours for them to reach a 2nd grade reading level!
Compare this to so many of our students who, as discussed above, have been in the public school system for 6, 7, 8, 9 years or more, and are still unable to spell simple words like "this, that, these, those and the." Compare this to millions of students who have dropped out of school, primarily because they can't read (more than 10 million per decade).
Our organization is an "all volunteer," mission-centric, extended virtual network, comprised of more than fifty, highly skilled and experienced individuals from around the country (and a few from around the world) who collaborate through cloud-based technology and platforms. The app consists of more than 2,000 screens, each individually narrated to most closely simulate a true one-on-one tutoring experience, which has been our hallmark for 12 years.
Our five graphic designers, six curriculum content developers, six engineers and all of our support teams, including project management, curriculum management, and UX/Beta testing, along with our production and engineering partner, Pubbly, have built more than 1,200 screens since March; and we are slated to complete the 2,000+ buildout by mid August.
On, or about, Thanksgiving, 2020, we will deliver this incredible reading app to the App Store and Google Play, and with it, an end-user experience (the UX) to millions of children in America's inner cities and rural counties, in the barrios and the suburbs, and on the American Indian reservations, and everywhere in-between, where illiteracy is endemic and education and opportunity are, tragically, not universally attainable.
FUNetix is real, and tangible, and life changing; and unlike so many other discussions, conversations, policies, programs and protocols, AND, unlike so many other legacy (and even brand new) reading apps, reading programs and reading curricula based on legacy phonics pedagogy, (which doesn't scale, isn't amenable to self learning and doesn't teach children how to read in 120 hours, let along 12 hours), FUNetix will make a profound impact on millions of individual lives, while also profoundly effecting major social improvement on a massive scale, to bring about real, sustainable change in underprivileged and fully privileged communities and classrooms alike, wherever illiteracy and poor literacy looms. Literacy as a path to education and opportunity for millions of American children, and potentially billions of children worldwide, is imminently near. Through FUNetix, the American Youth Literacy Foundation is making English accessible to everyone!
We have been preparing for this moment for 12 years, but as a matter of pure coincidence, our launch and final developmental timeline is coinciding with other powerful forces in the country and the world, such as COVID and social justice awareness and unrest. Our role in the Coronavirus recovery and this social justice enigma, is to lift up and bring real, lasting, permanent life improvement to the more than 12 million 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade emerging readers who got knocked down by the Corona virus and knocked out of school, as so much collateral damage, so that they can get back to learning and education, in a new way, with better results than ever before, as if nothing had ever happened to derail their futures.
Our role in effecting major social improvement, including improvement in areas of education, opportunity and equality has been at the forefront of our mission and vision since our inception as a charitable foundation in 2008. The convergence of universal forces that is allowing the FUNetix Reading App to fall on such fertile soil is something that we cannot explain.
But in order to deliver this incredible app to the children who need it most, we still need to complete three pieces of the equation: what we call "The Horse," "The Cart," and "The Payload."
The Horse is the curriculum; and we are more than halfway through the conversion process from our analog to a new, super fun, super interactive, digital curriculum for kids.
The Cart is the distribution system, the "how do we get it out into communities and to the children, once it's built?" Despite what some may think, just because we put an app in the App Store, doesn't mean it will go viral. We need to market, publicize and reach out to communities to make them aware of your creation, even if it's FREE, like FUNetix! For that, we have built our in-house Community Outreach and Distribution Team; and they are, in turn, building a network of Community Outreach Liaisons nationwide, as well as reaching out to community leaders, social media influencers, thought leaders, religious leaders, political leaders, sports and entertainment influencers and others, in order to find the best and most efficient pathways to deliver the message to the parents that literacy is within reach, and to ensure that the FUNetix Reading App gets into the hands of the children who need it most.
And the Payload is the UX itself (the "user experience"). But it's not just the child (the ultimate beneficiary) who must enjoy the experience enough to continue through the progressive learning modules, it's also the parent, or guardian, or friend, or grandparent, or sibling, or concerned adult, who must be supported. And for that we are building the support system and the support network that will scale with the app , and not constrain the growth and penetration of the app into the multifarious interstitial spaces of American society, wherever children are in need.
We are creating that support network for caring adults, which will consist of in-app information as well as web-based content that they can refer to, in order to gain a better understanding of what the app is and how it works, and how they can best assist their child or grandchild through the learning process.
In addition, all of our external communications will be supported and cross connected through our website and via a variety of social media outlets. Our brand, image, content and messaging has been, and will continue to be, a collaboration between our Graphic Design, UX, Marketing and Communications, Web Development, Curriculum Content, Funding and Community Outreach teams.
As we mentioned, the curriculum consists of more than 2,000, individually narrated screens. We first teach children the 44 sounds of the English language. Then we teach them how to "map," or, associate symbols to each of these sounds. We teach them how to blend those sound symbols and those sounds together to make words and sentences and, ultimately, stories. It usually takes them only 4 hours to learn how to read our super child-friendly, phonetic English code called 21E. Over the next 4 hours, children learn how to use those sound symbols as a "diacritic" pronunciation guide to help them decode ANY English word. We call this the FUNetix Magic Decoder, because it works like magic: the magic symbols above the words reveal the hidden sounds of EVERY English word!
Like training wheels on a bike, children use the Magic Decoder to practice, practice, practice reading for the final four hours of the app, until the training wheels are ready to come off. Then they graduate, and are introduced into the Wonderful Content Library, where they can read all kinds of stories, books and poems, and play puzzles and games, and go on treasure hunts and virtual scavenger hunts using the newly developed reading skills that they now have. And on every screen in the Wonderful Content Library, kids have the FUNetix Magic Hat button with them, so that if they ever come across a word they've never seen before, or that they forgot how to decode, they can push the button and see the FUNetix Magic Code, and don’t have to stop and ask a grown up or a sibling, and so that they can continue on, and keep up the momentum and the pace of reading, without getting distracted, or side tracked or frustrated, or, worse yet, give up!
FUNetix, the team, is a mission-focused, distributed network of currently, 48 people (and still growing), each contributing between 5 and 65 hours of volunteer time per week. Our partnership with Pubbly is contractual, and we pay for engineering, coding, animation, narration and other services.
The FUNetix organization is organized into 12 teams including Project Management, Graphic Design, Curriculum Development, UX/Beta Testing, Engineering, Community Outreach and Distribution, Web Development, Funding, Marketing, Communications and Public Relations, and others.
There's much more to tell. You can read more about our story, and about us, at www.FUNetix.org and www.YouthLit.org. We have much more to do to get ready for our Thanksgiving launch!
As for our Business Development/Funding Team Leads, we have 2 openings left (all of our teams have 3 team leads and sometimes, additional, task specific, team members). So, we are now looking for two, very special people, who have everything we mentioned above: passion, expertise, time, etc., to join our team and help us launch the FUNetix Reading App this fall.
Our Funding Team Leads will help us explore, develop, plan and execute a broad set of funding initiatives to include: Grant Writing, Philanthropic Donations, Crowdsourcing, Sponsorships, Fundraising Events, Licensing and other forms of App Monetization.
The ideal candidate will have a broad, deep and sophisticated understanding of sales, marketing, technology and funding, derived from multiple years of experience, either as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, or non-profit director or board member. The Team Lead may have grant writing or crowdsourcing experience, but these specialties will also be sourced, and additional team members will be hired to meet the needs of the organization in terms of fundraising for operational (engineering, coding, Pubbly) costs, as well as marketing, distribution, expansion and ongoing initiatives to deliver the app broadly and quickly into disparate communities across America. Ultimately, our mission is to get the app, and via the app, literacy, out to the children who need it most. Thanksgiving, in many ways, will be more of a beginning than an end. It will be the beginning of a tireless effort to deliver the solution to the streets and homes and schools of America where children are trying, but endlessly failing at learning how to read.
If you wish to be considered for this opportunity, please send us a cover letter and resume to HR@YouthLit.org.
We are looking for intelligent, creative, enthusiastic, cheerful, optimistic individuals, who have the time, energy, expertise and desire to make a true difference and be part of something amazing! This is a complex undertaking and we are looking for highly proficient and organized professionals. Individuals interested in this position must have the experience and ability to work in a virtual environment using select networking, file sharing, and communications tools and platforms.
Thank you! We hope this opportunity finds you at the right place and the right time in your career to make a difference and an impact, to add value, in an amazing way, to help millions of children who are waiting for someone, or some thing, to lead them out of a life of impoverishment and into a future of unlimited possibility and potential.
We look forward to hearing from you and speaking with you about the future of literacy in America.
The mission of the American Youth Literacy Foundation is to help ALL American children become literate before they reach the end of 5th grade by providing simple, phonics-based tools and reading curricula, together with training and support, to parents, teachers, tutors and organizations that work directly with students in need.
In support of our mission, Youth Lit develops and directs free after school tutoring programs in association with public libraries, YMCA's and other community outreach organizations. Most of our tutors are high school and college student volunteers who are earning community service credits while making a valuable contribution to their communities.
Children & Youth
Education & Literacy
We'll work with your schedule.
This is a Virtual Opportunity with no fixed address.
July 26, 2021
Marketing Strategy & Planning
Brand Development & Messaging
Business Development & Sales Management
Periodic meetings with tasking in-between; as much time as you can commit. Your ability to commit time to this will be a determining factor. If you can only commit limited time but still want to participate, we will keep your resume on file.