CONTACT: GEORGE MCCRORY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0012; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Release: Embargo until noon Jan. 6,
Breakthrough to Literacy expands into new facility at Oakdale Research
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
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
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
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
"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.