Every child deserves the right to learn to read on time.

Ignite! Reading’s virtual one-on-one tutoring program helps students learn to read 2.4 times faster.

The Problem

Today, only 35% of fourth graders read at grade level – primarily because most schools struggle to teach the foundational reading skills the science of reading says are needed to be an independent reader by the start of second grade. The English language is a code and students must be taught through direct, explicit, systematic instruction to crack it.

Of fourth graders are at the national

reading proficiency level.

Phonological Awareness +

Phonics +

Automatic Word Recognition+

Fluency =

Independent Reading

Children who are unprepared for early learning are:

More likely to drop out of school
More likely to skip college
More likely to be arrested for a violent crime
Twenty years of reading research has shown that 85%+ of children can learn to be independent readers by the end of first grade.  Unfortunately, most schools struggle to meet this standard because:



  1. Many schools’ literacy programs are not grounded in the science of reading and lack an explicit focus upon foundational reading skills in the K-2 grade band.
  2. Only 25% of teachers have been trained in the science of reading and an evidence-based foundational reading skills curriculum.
  3. Class sizes in most schools can make it extremely difficult for teachers to differentiate reading instruction for each student, a practice that is critical for early literacy success.

Ignite! Reading’s Solution

The Ignite! Reading tutoring program is unique in its focus on a high-fidelity implementation of a data-driven, differentiated, foundational reading skills curriculum. We accelerate reading progress 2.4x with just 15 minutes per day of one-on-one virtual tutoring. Key elements of the Ignite! Reading solution include:

  • High-fidelity implementation of the foundational reading skills curriculum How to Plan Differentiated Reading Instruction, by reading researchers Sharon Walpole and Michael McKenna.

  • A data-driven approach to instruction enabled by upfront diagnostics and routine progress monitoring.

  • Paid tutors who receive upfront training and daily professional development until they are delivering Ignite! Reading’s curriculum with high-fidelity.

  • Skilled literacy coaches who provide real-time, differentiated coaching and feedback to each tutor.

  • Daily, individualized, targeted instruction in each student’s zone of proximal development from a nurturing adult who is highly trained in the Science of Reading and committed to the success of each student.

  • Collaborative school-based partnerships with customized support to integrate tutoring into the daily schedule and ongoing feedback loops to maximize instructional outcomes for students.

The Ignite! Reading program is typically implemented during the independent reading portion of a school’s literacy block or during a designated intervention period. Students receive 15 minutes per day of one-on-one virtual reading instruction over Zoom from a highly-trained tutor educator. Our virtual format enables us to both ensure that our tutor educators are implementing the curriculum with fidelity and eliminate the traditional challenges of ensuring enough tutors are available at the time and place they are needed. School partners are responsible for ensuring that students show up on time for their tutoring sessions each day.

Our Results


weeks of reading progress for every week in the Ignite! Reading program 


of students made 2 weeks of reading progress in just 75 minutes per week of instruction

During the 2021-22 school year, the Ignite! Reading program was implemented in 13 district and charter Title 1 schools across urban and rural communities in six states. 65% of our nearly 600 students were from historically underrepresented communities, while 35% of our students were multilingual learners and 12% received special education services. Students made 2.4 weeks of reading progress for every week in the program.  Our 2021-22 program also achieved the following results:

Weeks of reading progress per week in program:

White = 2.4
Black = 2.4
American Indian/Alaska Native = 2.4
Hispanic = 2.4
There was no racial achievement gap in the Ignite Reading Program.
All students
Students with IEPs
Multilingual learners
Students receiving FRL

Students with IEPs, multilingual learners and students receiving free or reduced price lunch made the same progress as their peers.

“It’s effective. We can say that the students already made huge gains, just from the small amount of time we’ve been using it.”

“Ignite gives students the lessons they need, but what it really gives them is the confidence they need to be readers.”

Social Emotional Learning Impact

In addition to accelerating student reading growth, the Ignite! Reading program has demonstrated a significant impact on student’s social emotional learning. Teachers, school leaders and students all note the impact that receiving 1:1 instruction in their zone of proximal development by a nurturing adult is having on students’ confidence, engagement, persistence, love of reading and readiness to learn when they return to the classroom.

Program Implementation

Integrating new programs or interventions into a classroom is often fraught with challenges. Many promising innovations fail to have impact because it is too difficult to fit them into already packed class schedules or effectively train teachers to implement the programs with fidelity. The Ignite! Reading program is designed to minimize the burden placed on teachers so that it can be easily implemented during the school day and begin having impact immediately. All schools need to do is make sure that their students are at their computers for 15 minutes per day.

Read more about our impact in our 2021-22 Pilot Results Report.

"100% of our students who moved from below grade level to at or above grade level were in Ignite!" Michael Burks, KIPP School Leader

Tutor for Ignite! Reading



Our tutors:

  • Make a commitment to teaching young children to learn to read
  • Receive upfront and ongoing training, coaching, and development in the Science of Reading and aligned research-based curriculum
  • Apply their learning in real-time through practicum hours tutoring children ages 5-8 via Zoom
  • Are compensated for their training and development as well as their sessions with students
  • Build caring relationships and leave a lasting impact on students

Our Mission.

Ignite! Reading’s mission is to ensure that every student is an independent reader by the start of second grade.


-Frederick Douglass


Ignite! Reading was founded by Jessica Reid Sliwerski, formerly CEO of Open Up Resources and Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway with the literacy expertise of Nikki Bridges and Charlotte Marks from Lit.

Jessica Reid Sliwerski

Co-Founder and CEO Ignite! Reading

Evan Marwell

Co-founder, Ignite! Reading & CEO, EducationSuperHighway

Charlotte Marks


VP ACADEMICS, Ignite! Reading

Driven by the unshakable commitment of ensuring every student in America is given the right to read on time, Jessica Sliwerski is the Co-founder and CEO of Ignite! Reading, a virtual high-dosage foundational reading skills intervention literacy program. To reimagine how students are taught to read in school, Jessica launched Ignite! during her time as CEO of Open Up Resources, a national nonprofit that increases equity in education by making high-quality curricula openly accessible to schools and districts. She began her career with Teach For America in NYC before becoming a founding teacher, then Assistant Principal at Success Academy Charter Schools. Bringing instructional best practices to district schools, she became a Literacy Specialist at The Urban Assembly, a nonprofit overseeing more than 10,000 students in secondary schools. Previously, Jessica co-founded and was Chief Academic Officer & Chief Product Officer of the adaptive literacy software company LightSail Education. Jessica’s instructionally-focused product vision has won multiple awards, including the Digital Promise & EdSurge Digital Innovation in Learning Award, two ASU-GSV Return on Education VentureEd awards and a Readers’ Choice Top 100 recognition from District Administration magazine

Evan is the founder and CEO of EducationSuperHighway.  In eight years, EducationSuperHighway closed the digital divide in America’s K-12 schools – connecting nearly 47 million students in 99.7% of America’s classrooms to high-speed broadband.  To accomplish this, Evan secured commitments from 85 governors from all 50 states to upgrade their schools for the 21st century and $2.5 billion per year of federal funding to make these commitments a reality. 


A recipient of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Visionary of the Year award and a serial entrepreneur, Evan launched companies over the last 25 years in the telecom, software, and hedge fund industries. Evan is an honors graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School, an advisor to high-potential social entrepreneurs, and the board chair of myAgro, an NGO helping smallholder farmers in Africa move out of poverty. Evan is also passionate about literacy in America and looks forward to seeing the impact Ignite! will have in our country. 

Charlotte is the Program Director for Ignite! Reading and an instructional specialist at Lit, a non-profit organization that imagines a world where all children receive high-quality reading instruction powered by the science of reading. At Lit, Charlotte has supported schools across the country ground their literacy programs in the science of reading, specializing in foundational skills instruction. She is passionate about explicitly teaching the code of the English language as she deeply understands that being a code-breaker is essential to becoming an independent reader.

Charlotte started her education career teaching science in the Amish community in Lewisburg, PA before returning to her hometown of New York City to teach 5th grade with Breakthrough New York. She then spent the bulk of her teaching career at Uncommon Schools where she led 3rd and 4th grade classrooms, was responsible for coaching her grade teams, and designed informational reading curriculum and structures for the network. After leaving the classroom, Charlotte worked as a learning architectwith Relay Lab Schools and was responsible for the professional development and instructional coaching of Talma Israel’s cohort of teachers.

Ignite! in the News

Want to learn more about the Ignite! Reading program. The press has been busy writing about our school implementations across the country!

Contact Us

Ignite! Reading is expanding! Please contact us if your school, district, or organization is interested in partnering with Ignite! Reading.