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Release: Release: Embargo until noon Jan. 6, 2000

Breakthrough to Literacy expands into new facility at Oakdale Research Park

CORALVILLE, Iowa – Citing the continued growth of its early language and literacy program to a national market, Breakthrough to Literacy, Inc. has expanded into a new facility on the University of Iowa Oakdale Research Park.

Breakthrough to Literacy dedicated its new corporate facility in the Oakdale Myriad Technology Plaza at 2662 Crosspark Road in Coralville today (Jan. 6). The dedication marks Breakthrough's progress since 1988 as a one-person company located in the Technology Innovation Center (TIC), UI's business incubator, to a 30-employee company that reaches children in more than 2,000 classrooms in 600 schools across the U.S.

The dedication program included remarks from Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin; Iowa's First Lady Christie Vilsack; UI Vice President David Skorton; Carolyn Brown, founder, and Jerry Zimmermann, president of Breakthrough to Literacy.

The Breakthrough to Literacy program combines quality print materials for students and teachers, interactive computer software, parent support, and extensive professional development for teachers. Specially trained early literacy experts, called literacy coaches, assist teachers in using Breakthrough to Literacy and establishing classroom environments that promote the development of reading, oral language, and writing. The company distinguishes itself from other providers by working in partnership with schools to share responsibility for achieving results in the classroom. The program has received national attention for the outstanding gains participating children have made on standardized tests.

The program started at the UI nearly 18 years ago when Dr. Carolyn Brown, then a research scientist in Speech Pathology and Audiology, began working with students who were having difficulty linking sound, text, and meaning. She spent thousands of hours uncovering the experiences and testing the learning environments needed to help children make the link between oral language and print. Collaborating with Dr. Jerry Zimmermann and Professor Richard Hurtig, in the same department, Brown developed a model for an interactive computer program that gave young children effective experiences to help them learn to read.

Breakthrough, Inc. was established in 1987 as a research and development company to further test and refine models for language and literacy development. With support from federal grants, state economic funds and the University of Iowa Technology Innovation Center, a product called Foundations in Reading was developed. By 1993 the company was offering its program to schools across the U.S. In 1997, The Wright Group, a Bothell, Washington, subsidiary of the Tribune Co. in Chicago, purchased Breakthrough, Inc., renaming it Breakthrough to Literacy.

"The TIC business incubator has allowed Breakthrough to turn our research into a viable educational resource. We've been able to succeed in a very competitive marketplace," Zimmermann said. "We're fortunate to have the incubator here to bring us where we are today."

Brown and Zimmermann continue their affiliation with the UI as adjunct professors in the department of speech and audiology. This past summer, their company partnered with the department to create the Breakthrough to Literacy Language and Literacy Institute, which provided extended classroom experiences for 10 youngsters from the local community. The Institute also served as a training facility for approximately 40 literacy coaches.

"Breakthrough started with the educational dream of helping youngsters learn to read. It has been gratifying to see the company maintain the human focus of this dream while creating a growing business to help make it come true," said Bruce Wheaton, director of the UI Oakdale Research Park.

Breakthrough's new facility is a 10,000-square-foot building in the Myriad Technology Plaza, a 45,000-square-foot complex constructed by Myriad Developers, L.C. of Cedar Rapids, a subsidiary of Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO). Myriad's manager is Patrick H. Murphy. Taylor Ball, L.C. of Cedar Rapids was general contractor for the project. The construction manager was J. Alexander Hart of Hart Engineering Incorporated of Des Moines, and the architect was John Rice of Des Moines.

The UI Oakdale Research Park was established in 1989 to encourage sustained research relationships between the UI and industry. The Park offers leased building sites and space to corporations engaged in research and development, and related production and marketing activities. Breakthrough to Literacy is the 14th graduate of the TIC business incubator and the ninth company to expand on the research park. Firms already on the park include Oakdale Systems, LMS CADSI, Neural Applications Corp., UroSurge, Inc., The Stanley Group, Ascend Technologies, Inc., Systems Alternatives, Inc., and Police Law Institute. University "magnet" laboratories on the park are Oakdale Medical Research, the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing, and the National Advanced Driving Simulator. A fourth magnet laboratory, the Center for Advanced Drug Development, is also at Oakdale.

For more information, contact Julie Render at Breakthrough to Literacy, (319) 665-3000 or Tom Bauer at the Oakdale Research Park, (319) 335-4067.