3 6 9 Leaders Table


    The 3 6 9 Leaders Table was a collaborative group that worked to draw attention to low literacy in Alberta, working together in a variety of ways to advance policy and advocacy for early learning and literacy. The group started meeting in 2021. We started out exploring conversations around literacy through a webinar series. As leaders in Calgary and a passionate group of individuals and organizations committed to children and literacy, we created the Left Unread campaign to ensure no child is left unread. 

    This was a great opportunity to collaborate and to help influence and hypercharge the importance of literacy in our community. While the group stopped meeting formally at the end of 2023, the advocacy of everyone involved won’t stop. Literacy remains an important factor that has a huge impact on a person’s ability to navigate life, find employment, secure housing, and access services. Literacy is critical to a sustainable future, and we still need everyone to care – that means youth, parents, grandparents, business leaders, government officials, and everyone in our communities. We all remain part of the literacy ecosystem and will continue to influence this conversation in different ways moving forward.

    What is the significance of 3 6 9?

    Literacy affects people across their lifespans. While literacy is universal, literacy and education are also critical components of poverty reduction. 3 6 9 is the wonder number of Nikola Tesla and it’s also connected to early learning and literacy. At age 3, children need to develop the vocabulary they need to be school-ready at age 6 and to be able to successfully make the shift at age 9 from learning to read to reading to learn, so they can succeed in school and in life.


    • How are children and young Alberta students performing after several disruptions to life and the public education system? Albertans needs to understand where we are today as a province, which requires open and transparent data from the government and school boards to support better paths forward in our province’s future.   
    • How will investments be made to provide up-to-date data for early learning and literacy in Alberta? Research suggests that quality childhood education can reduce the need for additional supports in schools, reduce the drop-out rate, and prevent future crime. Investments in quality childhood education are investments in Alberta’s future.  
    • How can Alberta follow-up on measurements from the 2014 Early Childhood Development Mapping project? The report shows less than half of kindergarten-aged children in Alberta are developing appropriately in five key areas of development.  
    • How will Alberta collect standardized Early Development Instrument data as part of a province-wide early childhood development monitoring system?  

    Left Unread

    The Left Unread movement launched in the spring of 2023. Literacy is a light that guides children as they grow. The power of words provides answers, insight, and directions on the ways of the world. But for one in five Albertans who have faced literacy challenges since childhood, these all-important words are left unread, leaving many of life’s best experiences left unknown. The purpose of the movement was to create urgency around children and literacy, to state that no child should be left unread. Left Unread did this in a variety of ways, with posters, bookmarks, stickers and lawn signs, engaging folks at the annual Big Book Sale in May 2023 and through other local AGMs and events. Social media channels were created and utilized as an excellent tool to help spread the words – not just Left Unread channels, but the cross posting of members of the 3 6 9 Leaders Table created a buzz in the community. The curiosity continued in the lead up to International Literacy Day on September 8, 2023. Alongside the Leaders Table and with a great deal of support from the Calgary Public Library, Left Unread hosted a panel focused on literacy challenges and paths forward. It’s important to note that some of the evidence for this movement leveraged data from The Case for Literacy in Alberta. There are only upsides to addressing low literacy. It can only enhance the long-term economic and social wellbeing of our communities.


    The 3 6 9 Leaders Table convened for three years, discussing policy and advocacy for early learning and literacy. Conversations were spearheaded by Steacy Pinney, former CEO of Calgary Reads and linked to the Enough for All strategy’s Early Learning and Care lever of change.   

    Different people and organizations worked previously to advance early learning and care through the First 2000 Days Network and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The legacy of Calgary Reads and their Dandelion Strategy continue to influence literacy in Calgary and Alberta. The work of the 3 6 9 Leaders Table carried on some of this foundational work. 

    The collaborative's members

    The 3 6 9 Leaders Table is a collaborative and community-led effort. The following organizations are currently involved in pushing the work forward: 

    • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area  
    • Burns Memorial Fund 
    • Business Council of Alberta  
    • Calgary Board of Education 
    • Calgary Public Library 
    • Mount Royal University's Trico Changemakers Studio  
    • PolicyWise for Children & Families 
    • United Way of Calgary & Area  
    • University of Calgary – Owerko Centre 
    • Vibrant Communities Calgary  
    • YW Calgary 

    Further Reading

    Articles & events by this contributor