At the 20th Annual Beyond School Hours Conference, GLR Managing Director Ralph Smith was awarded the Champion of Children's Award, given by conference sponsor Foundations Inc.. in recognition of outstanding commitment to helping the nation's most vulnerable children and families achieve brighter futures through quality education.
Foundations, Inc. CEO and President Rhonda Lauer praised Smith and the Campaign for making grade-level reading by the end of third grade a policy and practice priority for communities large and small across the country.
Something is wrong when 65 percent of fourth graders in public schools are reading below proficiency level in 2015, Lauer said. Thanks to the Campaign “finally we have governors, mayors and city councils talking about getting kids to read on grade level.”
In a videotaped message, Annie E. Casey Foundation President Patrick McCarthy praised Smith's "rare combination of brilliance, commitment, and passion," his work leading Casey's Making Connections initiative to improve the lives of vulnerable families living in poverty, and his mentorship of hundreds of leaders in the child and family advocacy field.
In his remarks, Smith thanked the 1500 school-and-community based after-school and summer program providers in attendance at the event for giving voice to the fact that "schools can't do it alone ... and the understanding that schools can't do it alone sits at the core of a movement that brings all of us to this room and charges us all to do what we can to help."
GLR Support Center Director Ron Fairchild moderated a panel at the conference, Creating High Impact Approaches to Grade Level Reading and Literacy, with Lauer, Jane Quinn, Director of the National Center for Community Schools, Sylvia Lyles, Director of the Office of Academic Improvement Programs for the U.S. Department of Education, and Debra Mahone, grants project director for Elgin Independent School District in Elgin, Texas. Panelists agreed that community-school partnerships must make steady and intentional efforts to focus on results, use good data and engage in smart advocacy.