Literacy Lab
1003 K Street NW
Washington DC 20001
Mission Statement

The Literacy Lab’s mission is to provide low-income children with individualized reading instruction to improve their literacy skills, leading to greater success in school and increased opportunities in life.

CEO/Executive Director Ashley Johnson
Board Chair Ned Mandel
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired
Contact Information
Address 1003 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone 202 624-3043
Fax 888 426-8208
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2010
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $7,068,548.00
Projected Expenses $6,872,360.00
Additional Documents
Annual Report2015View

The Literacy Lab’s mission is to provide low-income children with individualized reading instruction to improve their literacy skills, leading to greater success in school and increased opportunities in life.


The Literacy Lab’s top accomplishments over the past year include:

  • We opened an office in Richmond and launched programming with 36 full-time tutors serving 650 children at risk of 3rd grade reading failure;
  • 98% of school principals chose to continue partnering with The Literacy Lab;
  • Over half of the tutors who worked with The Literacy Lab moved on to pursue careers in education after their year-long experience, demonstrating the organization’s significant impact on the human capital pipeline in the areas where we work.


The Literacy Lab works quickly to help students close the literacy achievement gap. In many cases, early, evidence-based literacy intervention can help students catch up to their peers in less than a year.
In the 2015-16 school year, we had the following impact in our target cities:
  • An average of 74% of pre-K students showed significant gains in Kindergarten readiness as measured by growth in three out of five early literacy measures. At one partner school, 96% of students ended the year on-track for Kindergarten after arriving with minimal knowledge of letter names and sounds.
  • In the most recent year, more than 55% of K-3 participants made enough growth in only one year to be on track for 3rd grade reading proficiency, significantly closing their literacy gaps with grade-level peers;
  • 100% of teachers anonymously surveyed at dozens of schools reported that they felt positively about their students’ participation in the program. 


We have the following goals for the current program year:

  • Provide research-and evidence-based interventions to more than 3,700 students at-risk for reading failure, including nearly 700 students in the Richmond area.
  • 70% of pre-K students will show significant gains in Kindergarten readiness and 70% of K-3 students will demonstrate enough growth to be on track for third grade reading proficiency;
  • Tutors will maintain implementation fidelity rates of at least 90% on all assessments and interventions


In Virginia, the achievement gap is measurable before children reach Kindergarten. Per the 2016 Virginia School Readiness Report Card, 24% of Hispanic students, 20% of economically disadvantaged students, and 12% of Black students require literacy intervention to be Kindergarten ready, compared to 8% of students overall. This gap has a significant impact on elementary literacy proficiency rates in high-need regions of the state. In the Richmond area, where there are large concentrations of low-income families, students are consistently not prepared for third grade reading proficiency, a critical early indicator of high school graduation. In 2015-16, only 9% of third grade students attending schools in Petersburg and 11% in Richmond were proficient in reading.

To address this gap, our most pressing needs include:

  • $486,000 in school contracts, foundation and individual support to meet the required cash match for AmeriCorps funding;
  • $2,500 for family engagement materials that encourage caregiver involvement in a child’s literacy practice;
  • $1,500 for assessment materials that allow tutors to adjust interventions in response to real-time data about a child’s literacy skills;
  • $1,500 for literacy training supplies to support tutors’ work with students at-risk for reading failure.


In 2015, 64% of all U.S. fourth grade students were not proficient in reading. The percentage of minority or low-income students who are not proficient in reading is even higher. For example, approximately 82% of black fourth grade students were not proficient in reading (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2015). The gravity of this problem is undeniable – those students who do not read on grade level by fourth grade are four times less likely to graduate high school (Hernandez, 2011).

Teach for America alumna Ashley Johnson co-founded The Literacy Lab after she saw firsthand the urgency of improving literacy in low-income communities. As a teacher in Washington, DC, her 9th grade students were only able to read on a third grade level. The Literacy Lab works to catch struggling readers at a younger age and give them the strong foundation in literacy they need to succeed. Since 2009, the organization has served more than 6,000 children at risk for reading failure.

In 2012, The Literacy Lab was selected as a national replication partner for the Reading Corps model. Through this partnership, The Literacy Lab has dramatically increased its reach by implementing a sustainable, research- and evidence-based early literacy intervention model in partnership with school districts. The organization has grown from working with 17 schools in 2012 to 85 schools in 2016. In addition, The Literacy Lab contributes to a high-quality teacher pipeline by training hundreds of early-career educators each year. Of the 205 tutors trained and coached over the last three years, 53% have remained in the education field by continuing in a teacher preparation program or attending graduate school in education.

The organization’s long-term goal is to bring its literacy intervention programming to scale in communities with a history of low-literacy achievement. It envisions an early literacy safety net that ensures disadvantaged students between age three and grade three have access to the support they need to read on grade-level by third grade no matter where they live or happen to attend school.

CEO Statement

When I founded The Literacy Lab with my Co-Executive Director, Tom Dillon, we wanted to give young children a better chance at success through individualized literacy support. Now, just seven years later, we have built a smart, efficient and hard-working organization that has a real impact on schools’ capacity to support individual students’ literacy growth in five cities across the country.

The key to our success is a strong team of passionate education and literacy experts who adhere to our core values – Going Above and Beyond, Strong Relationships, Careful Use of Resources, Giving the Best to Those Who Need it Most, and Impact. By aligning our work with these values, we can act with urgency to provide the literacy support children need to be prepared for the rest of their lives. Examples of our values in action include:

Going Above and Beyond: We constantly look for ways to help our students build literacy skills faster. Because our tutors work over 40 hours each week, they often collaborate with their school sites to incorporate literacy activities into after school programs, in addition to providing literacy interventions throughout the school day. Last year, two tutors created an afterschool program called “Lab Learners” to provide literacy interventions to 40 additional preschool and Kindergarten students at their school site every day.

Strong Relationships: The Literacy Lab’s model encourages effective collaboration between our program staff, tutors and partner teachers at our school sites. In one classroom, the tutor, lead teacher and teaching assistant developed “Literacy Week” to encourage greater family engagement. Last year, 98% of school principals chose to continue their partnership with us, which is significant because most contribute financial resources as well.

Careful Use of Resources: We strive to make every dollar count by planning ahead, being resourceful and staying organized. The majority of our funding goes directly to our program costs.

Giving the Best to Those Who Need it Most: We ensure that our research- and evidence-based programming delivers excellent literacy support to every child every time. We provide rigorous training to our tutors as well as support from Master Coaches with advanced degrees in education. Last year, our tutors implemented interventions with an average fidelity rate of 95%.

Impact: We know that what we do makes a difference in the lives and literacy skills of the children we serve. Our staff and board believe in our mission and work hard to constantly improve our results.

Areas of Service
Areas Served
Metro Richmond

The Literacy Lab has partnered with Richmond, Henrico and Petersburg City Public Schools to close the literacy achievement gaps at their highest-need elementary schools. In 2015-16, only 9% of third grade students attending schools in Petersburg and 11% in Richmond were proficient in reading. In Henrico, 74% of all third grade students could read on grade level, compared to approximately 60-62% of black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students (VA-SOL, 2015).

Board Chair
Board Chair Ned Mandel
Company Affiliation Retired
Term Sept 2014 to Sept 2018
Board of Directors
Board Members
Hugh Cole IIIWashington Property Company
Elizabeth Duff Harbour Capital Advisors
Patricia L. Evans DC Human Resources Center for Learning and Development
Praveen Jeyarajah Astor Place Holdings
Ashley Johnson The Literacy Lab
Elisabeth Liptak International Dyslexia Association
Ned Mandel Retired
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 5
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 3
Female 4
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 100
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Board Governance
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Executive Director
Executive Director Ashley Johnson

Ashley Johnson is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of The Literacy Lab. Prior to founding The Literacy Lab, Ashley worked as a Special Education teacher and coordinator at public and charter schools in the District of Columbia. Ashley was a Teach For America Metro DC corps member. Ashley earned her Master’s degree in Special Education from American University and her Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.

Co-CEO Tom Dillon
Term Start May 2009

Tom Dillon is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of The Literacy Lab. With a background in foreign language instruction, Tom brings an understanding of language acquisition and linguistic processes to the organization. Tom has experience teaching, coaching, and working in a number of academic programs in the Washington, D.C. area. Tom earned a Bachelor’s degree in European Studies at The College of William and Mary and holds a Certificate in Contemporary Europe from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Full Time Staff 224
Contractors 14
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers N/A
Management Succession Plan? Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes

The Literacy Lab’s relationships with schools, teachers, administrators, and other leaders in closing the literacy gap are critical to its success. In Virginia, The Literacy Lab partners with Richmond, Petersburg City, and Henrico County Public Schools to embed rigorously-trained tutors in high-need elementary schools to reach children at risk for third grade reading failure. The organization also benefits from the support of the Virginia General Assembly, which provides financial support and connections to school districts.

Finally, The Literacy Lab benefits from a formal partnership with the Minnesota Reading Corps, which provides technical support to implement the research- and evidence-based literacy intervention program as well as annual external evaluations.

Data Spotlight AwardRaise DC2015
Impact AwardLehrman Family Foundation2011
Outstanding NonprofitCatalogue for Philanthropy2013
National Replication PartnerMinnesota Reading Corps2012

The Literacy Lab has partnered with Richmond, Henrico, and Petersburg City Public Schools to close the literacy achievement gaps at their highest-need elementary schools. In 2015-16, only 9% of third grade students attending schools in Petersburg and 11% in Richmond were proficient in reading. In Henrico, 74% of all third grade students could read on grade level, compared to approximately 60-62% of black, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students (VA-SOL, 2015).

Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Budget $1,075,240.00
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $7,068,548.00
Projected Expenses $6,872,360.00
Endowment Value $0.00
Spending Policy N/A
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201520142013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$1,226,059$686,306$443,534
Individual Contributions$625,564$304,372$89,859
Investment Income, Net of Losses$463$872$507
Membership Dues------
Special Events------
Revenue In-Kind$18,069$14,000$69,305
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$2,500,152$1,470,130$893,303
Administration Expense$49,883$65,457$112,516
Fundraising Expense$111,598$54,664$42,972
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.241.161.12
Program Expense/Total Expenses94%92%85%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue5%4%5%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$1,785,307$1,067,631$677,229
Current Assets$1,757,381$1,064,388$672,074
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$199,802$125,088$87,571
Total Net Assets$1,585,505$942,543$589,658
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities8.808.517.67
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit ExemptionView