Every child deserves the right to learn to read on time.

Ignite! Reading’s Zoom-powered tutoring program helps students learn to read 2.5 times faster.

The Problem

Today, only 35% of fourth graders read at grade level – primarily because most schools struggle to teach the foundational reading skills the science of reading says are needed to be an independent reader by the start of second grade. The English language is a code and students must be taught through direct, explicit, systematic instruction to crack it.

Of fourth graders are at the national

reading proficiency level.

Phonological Awareness +

Phonics +

Automatic Word Recognition+

Fluency =

Independent Reading

Children who are unprepared for early learning are:

More likely to drop out of school
More likely to skip college
More likely to be arrested for a violent crime
Twenty years of reading research has shown that 85%+ of children can learn to be independent readers by the end of first grade.  Unfortunately, most schools struggle to meet this standard because:



  1. Many schools’ literacy programs are not grounded in the science of reading and lack an explicit focus upon foundational reading skills in the K-2 grade band.
  2. Only 25% of teachers have been trained in the science of reading and an evidence-based foundational reading skills curriculum.
  3. Class sizes in most schools can make it extremely difficult for teachers to differentiate reading instruction for each student, a practice that is critical for early literacy success.

Ignite! Reading’s Solution

The Ignite! Reading tutoring program is unique in its focus on a high-fidelity implementation of a data-driven, differentiated, foundational reading skills curriculum. We accelerate reading progress 2.5x with just 15 minutes per day of one-on-one tutoring via Zoom. Key elements of the Ignite! Reading solution include:
  • High-fidelity implementation of the foundational reading skills curriculum How to Plan Differentiated Reading Instruction, by reading researchers Sharon Walpole and Michael McKenna.

  • A data-driven approach to instruction enabled by upfront diagnostics and routine progress monitoring.

  • Paid tutors who receive upfront training and daily professional development until they are delivering Ignite! Reading’s curriculum with high-fidelity.

  • Skilled literacy coaches who provide real-time, differentiated coaching and feedback to each tutor.

  • Daily, individualized, targeted instruction in each student’s zone of proximal development from a nurturing adult who is highly trained in the Science of Reading and committed to the success of each student.

  • Collaborative school-based partnerships with customized support to integrate tutoring into the daily schedule and ongoing feedback loops to maximize instructional outcomes for students.

The Ignite! Reading program is typically implemented during the independent reading portion of a school’s literacy block or during a designated intervention period. Students receive 15 minutes per day of one-on-one instruction over Zoom from a highly-trained remote tutor. By leveraging Zoom we are able to both ensure that teachers are implementing the curriculum with fidelity and eliminate the traditional challenges of ensuring enough tutors are available at the time and place they are needed. School partners are responsible for ensuring that students show up on time for their tutoring sessions each day.

Our Results


weeks of reading progress for every week in our summer pilot


of students made 3 weeks of reading progress for every week of tutoring during our in-school pilot

The Ignite! Reading program was first implemented as a nine-week summer program in 2021 with 100 primarily Black and Latinx K-3 students in Oakland, California and 30 remote tutors.  Students made 2.5 weeks of reading progress for every week in the program.  The summer pilot also achieved the following results:

Weeks of reading progress per week in program:

All students
Students with IEPs
Multilingual learners

Students with IEPs and multilingual learners progressed at roughly the same rate as students overall.

At grade level = 2.12
.5 years or less below grade level = 2.38
.51 years to 1 year below grade level = 2.52
>1 year below grade level = 2.91

The further below grade level students were, the more progress they made.

Parents (100 Net Promoter Score) and tutors (92 Net Promoter Score) loved the Ignite! Reading Program.
Regardless of background, all tutors were able to deliver our science of reading based curriculum with fidelity – demonstrating the effectiveness of combining up-front training with daily coaching from literacy specialists.

Ignite! Reading is seeing similar results in our first in-school pilot with KIPP: Bridge Academy in Oakland, California. The program is serving 69 predominantly Black and Latinx first and third grade students in daily 15-minute one-on-one tutoring sessions during the school’s afternoon personalized learning block. After completing the equivalent of three weeks of daily 15 minute tutoring sessions, 89% of students passed their first progress monitoring assessment. 

These students made three weeks of reading progress for every week of tutoring they received. Other observations from our first progress monitoring assessments confirm key results achieved in our summer pilot:

  1. Older students who are further behind make faster progress. 
  2. Students with IEPs and multilingual learners are progressing at the same rate as students overall.
  3. Ignite! Reading is positively impacting the social emotional learning of students as tutors target learning to individual needs and build caring relationships with their students.

“Ignite is helping put us on track to achieve our annual goal of 100% of students behind grade level in reading growing 1.5 years by June 2022.” Michael Burks, KIPP School Leader

Tutor for Ignite! Reading



Our tutors:

  • Make a commitment to teaching young children to learn to read
  • Receive upfront and ongoing training, coaching, and development in the Science of Reading and aligned research-based curriculum
  • Apply their learning in real-time through practicum hours tutoring children ages 5-8 via Zoom
  • Are compensated for their training and development as well as their sessions with students
  • Build caring relationships and leave a lasting impact on students

Our Mission.

Ignite! Reading’s mission is to ensure that every student is an independent reader by the start of second grade.


-Frederick Douglass


Ignite! Reading was founded by Jessica Reid Sliwerski, CEO of Open Up Resources and Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway with the literacy expertise of Nikki Bridges and Charlotte Marks from Lit.

Jessica Reid Sliwerski

Founder, Ignite! Reading & CEO, Open Up Resources

Evan Marwell

Co-founder, Ignite! Reading & CEO, EducationSuperHighway

Nikki Bridges

Founding Partner, Ignite! Reading & CEO Lit

Charlotte Marks


Program Director, Ignite! Reading & Instructional Specialist Lit

Jessica is the Founder of The Ignite! Project and CEO of Open Up Resources, a national non-profit whose mission is to increase equity in education by making excellent curricula openly accessible to schools and districts.


Previously, Jessica co-founded the adaptive literacy software company LightSail Education. Her instructionally-focused product vision brought numerous awards to the organization, including the Digital Promise and Edsurge Digital Innovation in Learning Award, two ASU-GSV Return on Education VentureEd awards, and a Readers’ Choice Top 100 recognition from District Administration magazine. She began her career as a Teach For America teacher in the Bronx, NY before becoming a founding teacher then an Assistant Principal at Success Academy Charter Schools. Wanting to bring instructional best practices from the charter world to district schools, she became a network Literacy Specialist at The Urban Assembly, a New York City-based nonprofit organization overseeing more than 10,000 students in secondary schools.


Jessica’s work in K–12 education was profiled in The Wall Street Journal and Steven Brill’s book Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools, and she participated in the documentary film The Lottery and the forthcoming film The Right to Read. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCLA and a Master’s in Education from Pace University.


Jessica enjoys writing—Penguin has published her children’s book Cancer Hates Kisses—yoga, mentoring women, traveling with her husband, and reading with her daughter.

Evan is the founder and CEO of EducationSuperHighway.  In eight years, EducationSuperHighway closed the digital divide in America’s K-12 schools – connecting nearly 47 million students in 99.7% of America’s classrooms to high-speed broadband.  To accomplish this, Evan secured commitments from 85 governors from all 50 states to upgrade their schools for the 21st century and $2.5 billion per year of federal funding to make these commitments a reality. 


A recipient of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Visionary of the Year award and a serial entrepreneur, Evan launched companies over the last 25 years in the telecom, software, and hedge fund industries. Evan is an honors graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School, an advisor to high-potential social entrepreneurs, and the board chair of myAgro, an NGO helping smallholder farmers in Africa move out of poverty. Evan is also passionate about literacy in America and looks forward to seeing the impact Ignite! will have in our country. 

Nikki is the founder and CEO of Lit, a national non-profit imagining a world where all children receive high-quality reading instruction powered by the science of reading. Prior to Lit, Nikki served as the President of Relay Lab Schools and in various roles at Uncommon Schools. In her nine years at Uncommon Schools, Nikki served as a teacher, Hollyhock principal fellow, principal, and assistant superintendent. Under her leadership as an assistant superintendent, her portfolio of elementary schools outperformed the state average by 32% on the 2016 New York State ELA exams and 44% on the New York State Math exams.


As a principal, Nikki founded Leadership Prep Ocean Hill Elementary Academy—a school that was awarded a National Blue Ribbon Award in 2017 and ranked for three consecutive years as one of the top ten highest performing charter schools in New York state on the ELA and math exams. Her school leadership has been studied and codified in books such as Leverage Leadership by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo and training courses through the Relay Graduate School of Education’s School Leader Programs. Nikki taught elementary school and college-level courses in a variety of educational settings and uses her experiences to train educators across the country and internationally. Nikki began her career as a fourth grade teacher in New Orleans, Louisiana, and is an alumna of Teach for America Greater New Orleans, Georgetown University, Harvard University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Charlotte is the Program Director for Ignite! Reading and an instructional specialist at Lit, a non-profit organization that imagines a world where all children receive high-quality reading instruction powered by the science of reading. At Lit, Charlotte has supported schools across the country ground their literacy programs in the science of reading, specializing in foundational skills instruction. She is passionate about explicitly teaching the code of the English language as she deeply understands that being a code-breaker is essential to becoming an independent reader.

Charlotte started her education career teaching science in the Amish community in Lewisburg, PA before returning to her hometown of New York City to teach 5th grade with Breakthrough New York. She then spent the bulk of her teaching career at Uncommon Schools where she led 3rd and 4th grade classrooms, was responsible for coaching her grade teams, and designed informational reading curriculum and structures for the network. After leaving the classroom, Charlotte worked as a learning architectwith Relay Lab Schools and was responsible for the professional development and instructional coaching of Talma Israel’s cohort of teachers.


We are thankful for the generous support of our funders and partners.


Ignite! in the News

EdSource published a front-page story Can you teach reading on Zoom? About the KIPP pilot. The story was picked up by more than half a dozen other outlets in California and has contributed to inbound inquiries from California school districts interested in partnering with Ignite! Reading.