About Us

Every single child deserves a fighting chance to learn to read.

Dear reader,

That a large portion of students in America do not reach proficient levels of reading is among the most stubborn, systemic challenges of our time. This poor performance is tightly mapped to race and a core driver of systemic inequality. The children in our poorest communities are typically black or Latinx, the schools they attend are less well funded, the community resources available are fewer, and they are far more likely to suffer from economic or family instability. It is likely that their parents faced these same challenges, or worse, as did the generations before them. The painful paradox is that these are the exact children who must learn faster than their high performing peers if we are to close the Achievement Gap and reach high levels of reading proficiency. 

And yet, no research, pedagogy, curriculum, or program has proven a powerful, scalable, and cost-effective solution to alter the trajectory of our reading scores as a nation. Forty-nine states show flat or declining reading proficiency scores between 2017 and 2019. Programs like Head Start have no significant effect on reading outcomes (Pages, 2020). Technology adoption has no significant effect on reading outcomes (Neitzel et al., 2019). $3.5B in School Improvement Grants were deployed in 2010 and had no significant impact on reading outcomes (Dragoset, 2017). At a macro level, while the debate of Whole Language vs. Phonics rages, no approach or curriculum yields sufficient improvement per dollar spent on intervention to lead to the result we need: a world where every child can learn to read.

It is important to recognize that teachers and administrators have given lifetimes working to address these challenges. Without these thoughtful efforts, the gaps in opportunity to excel would undoubtedly be worse. Literacy rates would undoubtedly be worse. 

But the facts remain clear: English is, by definition, too hard for most of our students to learn to read.

That is what we have set out to fix.


Sincerely,

The TinyIvy Team

Current State of Literacy

National Statistics
  • 25% of students can’t read at basic grade-level literacy and more than 50% read below the proficient level.
  • Even the 90th percentile of students in the US can’t read at what is considered an advanced level.
  • There has been virtually no change in this data for the past 30 years, despite enormous dialogue, advocacy, research, and funding for improvement programs.
  • Over 50% of black and hispanic students can’t read at the basic grade-level literacy.
  • Only 1 state out of 50 showed significantly progress between 2017 and 2019. 
  • It is clear that the 2021 report would reflect the incredible challenges created by shutdowns and remote-learning approaches due to Covid-19. This effect will be most pronounced for poor communities and communities of color.
NAEP Reading Report Card - National Averages
NAEP Reading Report Card - Racial Inequality
Only One State Shows Improvement in 2017 - 2019

We imagine a bright future where virtually all children can read at grade-level

Our vision is utopian. Never before in mankind’s history has there been a country where virtually everyone could read. You can draw a direct line from learning to read to immeasurable benefits for society. McKinsey found a way to put a dollar figure against this gain: $500B a year; but of course the true measure is not financial. 

We believe that the best ideas come from a diverse and well educated populace. If everyone could read, we would have a more educated conversation, across the globe, of how to govern, what and whom to protect, how to stimulate growth, where to research, how to lower crime, and improve healthcare. How to do more with less. 

We believe that unsolved problems require brand new solutions

Our approach is fundamentally different. Every system in the market today takes as a fixed assumption that we can’t modify what has been clearly shown to be the root cause of the literacy problem in the US: our language itself

 

If you break that assumption, the world is filled with endless possibilities.

Our Team

Zachary Silverzweig

Seasoned startup executive with history of developing innovative products that drive social good. Owns very dusty climbing gear.

BA, MS, Columbia University

Elizabeth O'Driscoll

Educator and AP turned entrepreneur, merging amazing classroom experience and a whole lot of hustle.

BA, UC Boulder

Jake
Kim

HMH veteran and sales process guru on a mission to make the world more equitable and give opportunity to ELLs.

BA, University of Iowa

Marcin Ziolkowski

Full-stack engineering lead. and senior technology executive with 15+ years experience, the last six with Zach as VP Engineering.

MS, University of Technology & Life Science – Bydgoszcz

Rebecca Kate

SOCIAL

Becky drives our social media accounts, spreading the word about TinyIvy and helping bring our innovative system to thousands of parents across the world. When not on TikTok, she’s probably riding her horse Biggles.

Meghesh Saini

INDIA

With 6 years experience in building a portfolio of business in India, Meghesh leads efforts to bring our ESL work to market abroad.

MS, Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, National Institute Of Technology

 

Mary Zenorini

CONTENT

For over 20 years, Mary was CEO of a multi-million dollar management consulting company, focusing on management development and training.

JD, University of Utah

Our Advisors

Dave Goldberg

Dave Golden

ADVISOR

Founder and Managing Partner, Saing

Dave has built his business on the belief that focused, innovative solutions and socially conscious partnerships create lasting value. The son and grandson of teachers, he is passionate about increasing access to literacy, especially for communities in need. He is a trustee of the Ochs-Sulzberger trust, which controls the New York Times.

BA, Williams College
Fulbright Scholar, S. Korea

Teddy Rice

ADVISOR

President and Co-Founder of
Ellevation Education

Over 20 years experience in Education Technology as an operator and investor, focused primarily on how innovation can make a difference for our nation’s underserved and struggling students.

MBA Wharton, BA Dartmouth

Dr. David Share

ADVISOR

Faculty of Education
University of Haifa

World renowned researcher on the science of reading with focus on the impact of writing systems on how children learn,  the nature of reading disabilities, and and understanding the universal drivers in reading acquisition. 

B.Sc. (Hons.) in Psychology, University of N.S.W., Sydney, Australia.

Ph.D. in Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

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