top of page

2016 Symposium – Childhood Literacy as a Public Health & Economic Imperative

The Shepherd Higher Education on Poverty and the Atlanta Speech School announce the speakers and schedule for a jointly sponsored conference on Childhood Literacy as a Public Health and Economic Imperative: What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Do?  The symposium will take place at the Atlanta Speech School on Saturday, July 30, 2016, and feature: Maryanne WolfGreg DuncanMarcia Carlson, and Walter Gilliam.

yale professor

Walter Gilliam is the director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University.

Participants will include 102 Shepherd Consortium summer interns and faculty and staff from more than twenty SHECP member and prospective member schools.  Also attending will be childhood literacy educators, administrators, and policy makers and advocates from the Atlanta area and beyond, and interested citizens.The Consortium is partnering with the Atlanta Speech School to offer the 2016 Symposium, which will take place on the school’s campus.

The focus of the day will be: How to take research to practice in order to create population-based solutions to close the opportunity gap in the United States? The day will culminate with a working banquet in which students, faculty, staff, and practitioners and policy specialists in childhood literacy will offer recommendations on the next steps that need to be taken in their respective areas of work in order to close the opportunity gap for children and their parents. The participants will be creating their own marching orders, says Harlan Beckley, Executive Director of the Shepherd Consortium.

The 2016 Symposium schedule is available here. Here is a detail agenda for the weekend meetings, as of 28 July. Registration is open and the cost is $70. To register, click here.


Greg Duncan is a distinguished Professor in Education and Economics at the University of California, Irvine.

The idea for jointly sponsoring this symposium came from an initiative by Comer Yates, Executive Director of the Atlanta Speech School to contact Beckley about bringing the Shepherd Consortium annual symposium and conference for the interns to report on their summer internship education to Atlanta and the Atlanta Speech School. Beckley notes that this joint project will enable faculty and students to learn from those who work firsthand with childhood literacy.

maryanne wolf

Maryanne Wolf is a John DiBiaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service Director, Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University

Yates observes, “It is our privilege to host this gathering of four such extraordinary experts and remarkable group of outstanding young people and educational and policy leaders.  Our purpose is for the experts’ research to serve as a call to action and imperative for the participants to be change agents in breaking our country’s epidemic generational cycle of lack of access to educational opportunity and literacy and all of its devastating individual, social, and economic consequences.”

Daniel Pedersen is the Senior Advisor to the Atlanta Speech School and formerly founding President of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund as well as Chair of two national Boards on education: The First Five Years Fund and the Alliance for Early Success. Dan has worked on the symposium for months. Pedersen comments: “This is a rare chance to bring together some of the country’s leading thinkers who care deeply about our country’s most widely ignored public policy imperative. The good news, which the symposium also illustrates, is that the ship has begun to turn.”

Yates, Pedersen, and Beckley all believe that bringing college educators and students focused on diminishing poverty together with persons working firsthand on expanding opportunity with effective childhood literacy programs will unleash new energy to improve the public health and economic potential of our society. Tom and the Reverend Nancy Shepherd, founding donors and longtime supporters of poverty studies programs at their respective alma maters, Washington and Lee University and Middlebury College, have noted that “each Closing Conference has been enriched by the interns relating their summer experiences and the presentation of the best research and experts in various areas of barriers to human wellbeing. Childhood literacy is a key element to overcoming poverty.”

Marcy Carlson is a Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin.

Marcy Carlson is a Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin.

Citizens, educators, Shepherd intern alumni, from Atlanta and beyond are welcome to attend the symposium. They must register and pay the cost for food for the day. There will be no registration fee. All participants will contribute to the work during the banquet. Symposium participants are also welcome to attend the conference at which interns will report on their summer internships on Sunday, July 31. It will also we held at the Atlanta Speech School. Separate or joint registration is required for the two days. Registration instruction, including the cost of participation and information about preferred lodging will be available on this website in a few weeks. The symposium schedule is currently available here. The schedule for Sunday’s intern conference will also be available on this website in a few weeks.


bottom of page