YOUR County Chamber

  • Member Spotlight


    SHARP Literacy


    5775 N Glen Park Rd, Suite 202
    MilwaukeeWI 53209
    (414) 977-1768



    Did you know?


    • According to a path-breaking study by Hart and Risley (2003), by age 3, there exists a 30 million word gap between students from middle class families and their less affluent peers.  After four years, these differences produced significant discrepancies not only in children’s knowledge, but also in their skills and experiences that have lasting effects on a child’s performance later in life.


    • Each year that a student participates in the SHARP program, they demonstrate at least a 30% increased proficiency in word identification and usage, which is directly linked to fluency in reading and comprehension. Importantly, this success positively impacts their future.


    • Please save the date for SHARP’s annual fundraiser A Novel Event on Monday, October 17 at the Pfister Hotel, with keynote speaker John Quiñones (Broadcast journalist and host of ABC News’ What Would You Do?)

    SHARP Literacy enhances future life success by energizing urban children, motivating them to identify themselves as confident, capable scholars and lifelong learners by inspiring engagement in reading, writing and research through hands-on interaction and visual arts.  Now in its 20th year, SHARP offers year round programming to K5 through 5th grade students from Milwaukee Public Schools, Choice and Charter schools.  Through our Summer Learning Gain Initiative, SHARP partners with community-based organizations to bring arts-based literacy programming to some of our community’s most underserved students. 



    SHARP’s core literacy program includes activities throughout the year that continually emphasize the importance of literacy.  Teachers participate in professional development workshops in June and September.  In October, students and classrooms receive curriculum-specific workbooks and We Love to Learn books tailored to each grade level. SHARP provides in-school presentations at each participating school in both the first and second semesters.  Between December and March, students take part in docent-led, curriculum-specific educational tours around the city.  Students also participate in the online publication of a year-end writing challenge featuring student writing and artwork and a year-end recognition event to celebrate student achievement with parents and guardians.  Additional activities include participation in research for We Love to Learn books, the SHARP community mural project, and other city-wide programs and events that promote team work and build confidence.



    SHARP’s mission supports the belief that “learning, as a language-based activity, is fundamentally and profoundly dependent on vocabulary knowledge,” (Baker, Simmons, & Kame’enui, 1998) and that “the knowledge of a word not only implies a definition, but how that word fits into the world.” (Stahl, 2005). Between kindergarten and grade 3, it is estimated that at-risk students’ vocabularies increase by about 3,000 words per year, but middle class students’ vocabularies increase by about 5,000 words per year (Scanlon and Vellutino, 1997).  SHARP’s vocabulary rich instructional approach and the use of artifacts during in-school presentations and docent led educational tours close these “word exposure” and “word knowledge” gaps for the over 7,000 students  who participated in the SHARP program in 2015-16. 



    In the 2016-17 school year, SHARP will expand its services to include schools in Waukesha County, our first partner being La Casa de Esperanza.  For the first time we will also bring our award-winning program to K4 students, both in Milwaukee and Waukesha.  SHARP seeks educational partner sites within Waukesha County that will give students a rich experience and support classroom learning.


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