Little Learning & Reading Warriors

In the 2012-2013 school year, throughout Pittsburgh Public Schools, only 54 percent of graduating students qualified for the Pittsburgh Promise program. NLA staff and volunteers provide after-school support, with the goal of every student we encounter graduating Pittsburgh Promise-ready. We are currently implementing two 21st CCLC grants that brought an additional $3 million in after-school resources for Pittsburgh children. Our after-school programs reach more than 1,200 youths from across Pittsburgh Public Schools and Sto-Rox School District.


Program Vision

Our elementary after-school program challenges children to explore ideas of community, grow academically, and improve their leadership skills. The program also empowers them to advocate for themselves by developing a strong understanding of the resources available in their schools and communities.


Program Model

Culturally Relevant - First and foremost, NLA provides culturally relevant programming. With over 90% of its families being African American, NLA is committed to supporting hiring, and training and to program design and content that honors and strengthens African American children and families.

Programs in School Buildings - NLA remains committed to having all of its programming in school buildings. We believe that programming in the schools makes program staff more aware of the strengths and the challenges our students bring to the after-school programs and creates important relationships with school staff that help position the programs for success.

Place-Based Service Learning At the core of the program model is the concept of “place-based service learning.” The spaces children navigate in and around their homes and schools provide rich opportunities for learning. Four NLA sites are currently piloting a service learning approach, in which children learn about a topic while serving their communities, with excellent feedback from participants and community members.

Literacy – Through the Reading Warriors program, reading specialists on staff at NLA have developed and piloted an approach for delivering effective, research-based strategies using a wide variety of high-interest books. These strategies are fully aligned with the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ “Whole Child, Whole Community” campaign goal of having every child reading on grade level by 3rd grade.

Math – “Algebra Readiness,” one of only three primary goals outlined in Pittsburgh Public Schools’ “Whole Child, Whole Community” report, requires that students are fluent in basic computation and have a strong sense of how numbers work together. NLA’s math instruction strategies are focused on building this foundation.

Adult-Youth Staffing – A combination of adult and high school students make up the after-school staff at all NLA program sites. This approach aligns with our overall program vision that young people are assets to their communities.

Peer Instruction – Participants are given the opportunity to support younger children at their program sites (for example, fourth and fifth graders can be trained to read with kindergartners and first graders).

Health and Nutrition – Programs provide a healthy snack and meal each afternoon. Regular opportunities for physical activity help children to develop lifelong habits, and will not be limited to “gym time” but will also include “brain breaks” and stress-reliever movements.




  • Pittsburgh Arsenal PreK-5, in partnership with the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation

  • Pittsburgh Concord K-5, in partnership with Thelma Lovett YMCA

  • Pittsburgh Lincoln PreK-5, in partnership with Mount Ararat

  • Pittsburgh Morrow PreK-8, in partnership with Allegheny Youth Development

  • Pittsburgh Weil PreK-5, in partnership with Schenley Heights Community Development Program

  • Pittsburgh Woolslair PreK-5, in partnership with the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation