CommonLit.org has been a beloved staple of reading and writing instruction in the United States since 2016, when the reading program launched as a digital platform in English. This program quickly grew through teacher word of mouth and has reached students in over 75 percent of American public schools.
In 2018, through the aid of a $3.5 million Google.org grant, our organization created an internationalized version of the CommonLit site, and wrote hundreds of lessons in Spanish as part of our full Spanish program, CommonLit Español.
CommonLit Español is core to CommonLit’s strategy, mission, and founding story. CommonLit Founder & CEO, Michelle Brown, whose mother grew up in Cuba, learned Spanish in her bilingual household and taught Spanish at the K-12 and university levels. “It’s been a dream of mine to be able to serve students in Latin America, and students in the U.S. whose primary language is Spanish. My family’s story is an immigrant story, and my mom was a dual language teacher in South Texas and was always strapped for resources. I remember when we moved to Texas, there was such a shortage of Spanish teachers. When she was picking me up from school one day, the principal asked her to get an emergency certification to teach. CommonLit Español is filling an important gap for cutting-edge education technology in Spanish.”
CommonLit Español now boasts over 600 digital reading lessons for grades 3–12 (or their international equivalents), featuring local authors like Alma Flor Ada, Horacio Quiroga, Antonio Machado, José Martí, Pat Mora, and many others. We have a team based in Mexico Cityled by the former Director of Education at Sesame Street Mèxico, Gema Jara. Under her leadership, the team has developed dozens of partnerships with ministries of education, teachers’ unions, and NGOs in Mexico and across Latin America. Our partners include groups like UNETE, CONAFE, PRONI and DGESPE. This team also conducts important R&D to ensure the CommonLit Español program is optimized for the most marginalized students in Latin America. Philanthropic funding supports an innovative marketing and awareness campaign through popular channels in Latin America like WhatsApp, Facebook, and television.
To learn more about our work and impact in Latin America:
- Read Héctor’s story, a teacher in rural Campeche, México.
- Learn about the professional development CommonLit offers in Latin America.
- Check out more resources for teachers in Spanish on the CommonLit Español blog.
Our Pandemic Relief Work in Latin America
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, teachers around the world have had to reinvent learning through the internet. Across Latin America, CommonLit has focused efforts to spread awareness of our free services by partnering with NGOs, school networks, and ministries of education. Below is a summary of these efforts (last updated August 2021).
UNESCO — UNESCO and CommonLit are partnering for an upcoming Summer Reading Challenge which will run from December to February, focusing on marginalized students living in poverty throughout Latin America.
Mexico — Through a grant from Google.org, a team based in Mexico City has worked with UNETE, an NGO that outfits rural schools with high speed internet. Through this partnership, we have delivered the program to 800 high-need schools throughout Mexico, scaling our teacher training which focused on technology proficiency and best practices in literacy instruction using CommonLit. We also partnered with the Secretariat of Public Education to deliver training and curriculum to teachers across the country.
Colombia — In the fall of 2020, the Ministry of Education of Colombia endorsed CommonLit Español and integrated its offline materials into its official Colombia Aprende Portal. To support distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic for students with no internet, more than 30,000 laptops were preloaded with the same content and given to teachers and students. CommonLit’s openly-licensed materials eliminated the red tape involved in mass distributing educational content, and the platform supported continued education and training for educators.
Peru — In 2020, the Peruvian Ministry of Education preloaded 800,000 tablets with a link to the CommonLit Español platform and 70 PDF lessons. These tablets went directly to students to support distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also partnered with nonprofits like APFAS and local governments like the Municipalidad de Lima to train Peruvian teachers on using CommonLit.
Chile — In 2021, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chile Ministry of Education to disseminate the CommonLit Español platform and 70 PDFs to teachers across the country. Our team will also train teachers to use our tools during monthly webinars.
Honduras — We signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2021 with a USAID project called De lectores a líderes. This project reaches 400,000 students and 15,000 teachers and aims to promote literacy throughout the country. Through webinars, we are training their teachers to use CommonLit in their classrooms.
Ecuador — In 2021 a link to the CommonLit Español platform was added to the official Ministry of Education platform. In the months of July and August our team trained over 1,000 teachers during weekly webinars organized by the ministry.
Costa Rica — In 2019 we partnered with Amigos del Aprendizaje (ADA), a nonprofit in Costa Rica, to expand access to quality texts for Costa Rican teachers, students, and parents. ADA included CommonLit lessons in their social media campaigns aimed at promoting reading and writing. In addition, we have been working with the Ministry of Education to provide webinars for their teachers.
Dominican Republic — In 2020 we partnered with Fundación Glocal, an organization dedicated to promoting the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to environmental protection, to reach STEM teachers in the Dominican Republic.
Uruguay — In 2019 we partnered with ReachingU, a nonprofit in Uruguay to improve educational opportunities for students living in poverty. ReachingU has shared information about CommonLit Español through their social media accounts and via email to their teachers.