Fifteen communities across the country were honored today with the 2017 All-America City Award (AAC) for their civic engagement to help more young children from low-income families achieve grade-level reading proficiency and early school success. Research has long shown that when children read at proficient levels by third grade they are more likely to complete high school prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.
The AAC Awards were presented this year during Grade-Level Reading Week in Denver, Colorado. at the All-America City Awards Gathering hosted by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, along with the National Civic League, which created the prestigious program 68 years ago.
2017 All-America City Award Communities:
Stockton-San Joaquin County, CA
New Britain, CT
Delray Beach, FL
Suncoast (Sarasota & Manatee Counties), FL
Council Bluffs, IA • Des Moines, IA
Kansas City, MO
Montgomery County-Dayton, OH
Lane County, OR
San Antonio, TX
“We applaud the ’big tent’ coalitions in these award-winning communities. They put a stake in the ground around third-grade reading and made some ‘big bets’ to improve the odds for early school success,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. "Those big bets are paying off in more hopeful futures for so many vulnerable children in these communities."
“So many communities are doing a great job in using collaborative efforts to improve grade-level reading that it was hard to select this year’s award winners,” said Doug Linkhart, president of the National Civic League. “This year’s All-America Cities are engaging a diverse cross-section of residents, businesses, nonprofits and other stakeholders in the grade-level reading effort, which will help sustain their achievements over time.”
To select the 15 Award recipients, a panel of judges examined the progress reports from the 27 communities that were nominated as finalists. The 2017 AAC Award recipients are communities that:
Demonstrated they have moved the needle on outcomes for children from low-income families in at least two of the following community solutions areas: school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and/or grade-level reading.
Addressed the National Civic League’s key process criteria of civic engagement, cross- sector collaboration and inclusiveness.
Created a plan for sustainability and for aligning, linking, stacking and bundling proven and the most promising programs, practices and strategies.
Data collected by the U.S. Department of Education on fourth-grade students taking reading tests has shown that a wide gap exists for children from low-income families, especially among black and Hispanic children, compared with children from more affluent, white and Asian families. The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading now has more than 300 communities nationwide that have formed local coalitions to work together with parents, schools and other groups to close this reading gap and help more children succeed in school.
To learn more about the AAC Award criteria and to view profiles for each AAC Award recipient, visit gradelevelreading.net/aacaward.
Sponsors of Grade-Level Reading Week and the All-America City Awards include:
David and Laura Merage Foundation
Doris and Victor Day Foundation
Gary Community Investments Greenberg Traurig
Jacobs Family Foundation
J. F Maddox Foundation
Kaiser Permanente of Colorado
About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Kenneth Rainin Foundation
The Anschutz Foundation
The Ben and Lucy Ana Walton Donor-Advised Fund at The Denver Foundation
The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation
The Patterson Foundation
Rose Community Foundation
Southwest Airlines – the official airline of the All-America City Award
Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Twenty-seven communities across the nation are poised to receive the coveted AAC Award, a recognition created 67 years ago by the National Civic League. This year, the League is working together with the GLR Campaign to recognize communities that have made measurable progress for low-income children on the key drivers of early reading success — school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and grade-level reading.
“Recognizing these communities as All-America Cities is our way of applauding the civic leaders, nonprofit organizations and agencies, and corporations that have joined forces to build brighter futures for the children in their communities,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We are proud of these communities for answering the call and going above and beyond to ensure more hopeful futures for our nation’s most vulnerable children.”
This year’s AAC Award finalists represent the diversity of American communities from large urban centers to rural communities. Finalists will travel to Denver, Colo., June 14-16, during Grade-Level Reading Week and share their work with peers and participate in the event’s learning opportunities.
2017 All-America City Award Finalists:
Stockton-San Joaquin County, CA
Tahoe Truckee, CA
New Britain, CT
Delray Beach, FL
Suncoast (Sarasota & Manatee Counties), FL
Council Bluffs, IA
Des Moines, IA
Quad Cities, IA & IL
Kansas City, MO
Lafayette County-Oxford- University, MS
Wake County, NC
Montgomery County-Dayton, OH
Lane County, OR • Newport, RI
San Antonio, TX
Salt Lake (Clearfield, Kearns, Park City and South Salt Lake), UT
AAC Award winners in 2017 will be communities that:
Demonstrate they have moved the needle on outcomes for low-income children in at least two of the following community solutions areas: school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and/or grade-level reading.
Address the National Civic League’s key process criteria of civic engagement, cross-sector collaboration and inclusiveness.
Bonus points will be awarded for communities that have a plan for sustainability and for aligning, linking, stacking and bundling the most promising and proven programs, practices and strategies.
“We are honored to collaborate with the GLR Campaign in the All-America Cities program this year,” said Doug Linkhart, president of the National Civic League. “These cities are demonstrating that they can draw on the strength of their communities by harnessing the commitment of local residents, nonprofits and businesses to make a difference in the lives of their young people.”
To learn more about the AAC Award criteria and to view profiles for each AAC Award finalist, visit gradelevelreading.net/aacaward.
AAC Award recipients will be formally announced and honored on June 16 at the All-America City Awards Gathering. Communities nationwide are invited to attend the gathering to share successes and challenges, celebrate extraordinary results and explore new strategies to achieve bigger outcomes. For more information and to register, visit gradelevelreading.net/glrweek.
Today is the grand opening of the Communications Expo Submission Portal! We're looking for the best of the best and that means you. Submit your best outreach materials and be in the running to be featured at the All-America City Awards Gathering. All materials can be submitted here until the end of the submission period on May 5.
We're looking for submissions in the following categories:
• Awareness Campaign
• Media Partnership
• Media Story
• Social Media
• Print Collateral
For more detailed information, please review the entry guidelines and voting criteria. If you missed the Communications Expo webinar, you can view the presentation slides to learn more about this exciting peer-sharing opportunity.
This year, 48 communities across the nation have been recognized as Pacesetters for “leading by example” to solve one or more of the challenges that can undermine early literacy – school readiness, school attendance, and summer learning.
“Recognizing the Pacesetters is our way of applauding the civic leaders, organizations and agencies that have joined forces to build brighter futures for the children in their communities,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We are learning with them and from them what it takes to move the needle and close the gap.”
This year’s Pacesetter Honorees include:
Please welcome sixteen new communities that have joined the GLR Campaign!
The newest communities to join this collaborative effort include: Broward County, Fla.; Pinellas County, Fla; 10 additional counties in the state of Georgia; Sacopee Valley, Maine; Montgomery County, Md.; Nash and Edgecombe Counties, N.C; and Wayne County, N.C.
The 10 new counties in Georgia that have recently joined the GLR Network — bringing the number to 48 — are partnered together through Get Georgia Reading, a statewide GLR Campaign comprised of people, organizations and communities that applies a common agenda as a framework for action so that all children in Georgia become proficient readers by the end of third grade. The new counties include: Barrow, Candler, Columbia, Jenkins, Lanier, Lee, Pulaski, Toombs, Wilcox and Worth.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading today names 40 public housing agencies (PHAs) to its 2015-2016 Honor Roll for exemplary work to boost children’s literacy.
More than one million children from birth to age 8 are living in public housing in the United States. Research shows that 80 percent of children from low-income families enter kindergarten so far behind that they do not catch up and are unable to read proficiently by the end of third grade, a key predictor of high school graduation.
“Housing is a critical platform and portal for early learning and early school success,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We applaud and celebrate each of these public housing agencies for taking up the challenge to increase reading proficiency, improve the overall academic achievement and ultimately improve the life trajectories of children in low-income families. Their commitment to maintain, strengthen and scale existing literacy programs and partnerships demonstrates that the momentum for this work will continue to build.”
The PHAs named to the GLR Campaign’s 2015-2016 Honor Roll are recognized for their leadership in one or more of the following areas:
The Department of Education (ED) announced that it will host a weekly webinar series on ESSA Consolidated State Plans (Wednesdays from 2-3:30 EST). ED will provide a detailed agenda prior to each session. You must register for each webinar.
Please note that the schedule is subject to change.
WASHINGTON, D.C. January 11, 2017 – The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is lifting up 14 public housing agencies (PHAs) as bright spots for their exemplary work to transform their communities into book-rich environments.
This announcement follows the recent launch of the Book-Rich Environments Initiative, a collaborative effort spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Education to establish strong, local coalitions that support PHAs nationwide with providing diverse, high-quality books and literacy support to children and families living in public and HUD-assisted housing.
Today, more than one million children from birth to age 8 are living in public housing in the United States. Research shows that 80 percent of children from low-income families enter kindergarten so far behind that they do not catch up and are unable to read proficiently by the end of third grade, a key predictor of high school graduation.
“The formal launch of the Book-Rich Environments Initiative demonstrates that the momentum for this work will continue to build through helping to deepen and expand efforts focused on solving this issue that are already in progress,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “These PHAs are bright spots doing what it takes to change the trajectory of children’s lives. We applaud them for taking up the challenge to increase reading proficiency and improve the overall academic achievement of children in low-income families.”
City of Chandler Housing and Redevelopment Division & City of Phoenix Housing Department offered Raising A Reader (RAR), an early literacy and parent engagement program, to the families of the Chandler Public Housing community last fall for the first time. RAR also was offered to several public housing apartment communities in Phoenix. Through the program, families receive a rotation of RAR book bags filled with award-winning books to read and enjoy together.
City of Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Lansdowne Park public housing site benefits from a collaborative partnership between the Roanoke Police Department Reads, Total Action for Progress (TAP) and several public schools. Uniformed police officers read to children enrolled in TAP Head Start, creating a positive association with both uniformed officers and books.
Contra Costa County Housing Authority book distribution partners include REadingADvantage, which works with First Book and Imagination Library. The Contra Costa County HA has distributed books to children at the El Pueblo and DeAnza Gardens housing sites since June 2015. It also distributes books to new mothers during parent workshops and has co-hosted events at the Children’s Library with Contra Costa County during wait-list lines and at other community events.
Durham Housing Authority has recently partnered with Book Harvest to provide new, free books to children and families. Its first book distribution, National Night Out, was held on August 2, working alongside police officers and resident leaders in each community.
Housing Authority of the County of San Joaquin has partnered with the University of the Pacific (a local GLR Campaign backbone organization) to give books to kids through its summer literacy program at housing sites. The San Joaquin County HA also partners with Reach Out and Read to provide books to residents.
Kansas City Housing Authority is getting books to families in one of its housing sites (Choteau Courts) through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program. Turn the Page KC has also provided books to families in the “Phoenix Family” low-income housing communities through its partnership with First Book.
Marin County Housing Authority received a $10,000 grant from the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee in the summer of 2015 to support its literacy and book distribution efforts. The Marin County HA provided San Francisco Bay Area families with two-year memberships to ABCmouse.com and distributed books to children from ONE BOOK.
New Bedford Housing Authority is partnering with WGBH in Boston on a book distribution program. The New Bedford GLR Campaign Community received a book grant of $7,500 to purchase books for young children through Scholastic.
San Antonio Housing Authority opened the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech, the second branch of the BiblioTech Digital Library and the country’s first digital library branch located in a public housing community. The library branch is part of the Gardens of San Juan Square public housing complex located in Bexar County, Texas. It offers residents easy access to computers, e-readers, and over 38,000 e-books. BiblioTech has partnered with 14 school districts and 58 schools to reach students and provide individualized e-readers adjusted to student’s reading levels and goals. Through HUD’s ConnectHome Wi-Fi program, students have 24/7 access to the digital book collection.
Sarasota Housing Authority holds an annual back-to-school event that includes backpacks containing books, with the costs covered by a $3,000 grant from a local bank. The agency’s summer enrichment camps, parent education and Head Start programs include book giveaways with donations from the Early Learning Coalition, police and individual donors. SHA also received books from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for distribution to its families.
Tacoma Housing Authority provides summer learning programming that includes meals and distribution of books as part of its strategy to narrow the achievement gap. Public librarians and the local PBS affiliate KTBC provide literacy activities for primary grade students at summer lunch sites in the parks and at public housing sites.
Tampa Housing Authority has teamed up with Hillsborough County Public Schools and several local nonprofit organizations for Read on myON, a community-wide effort to encourage reading and increase literacy rates. The Read on myON project provides children from birth to grade 8 access to a personalized literacy environment with over 4,000 digital books. Partner organizations include the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, United Way Suncoast, BOCC Head Start and the Early Learning Coalition.
Topeka Housing Authority works with United Way of Greater Topeka and other partners to distribute books at its family literacy event, Book Bingo, where participating families have the opportunity to take home multiple books to keep and build personal home libraries. Books were also distributed to kids at Summer Feeding Service Program sites including housing agency communities with books acquired through Scholastic and donated by businesses and through local book drives.
Visit gradelevelreading.net/housingnews to learn more about the GLR Campaign’s focus on housing.
In August, the Board on Children, Youth, and Families at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine hosted a 1-day public workshop in Washington, D.C. that highlighted the latest research on summer programming and explored the links, both existing and potential, between summer programs and the broader ecosystem of child and adolescent learning opportunities. The workshop format was designed to stimulate discussion among individuals working in all areas of the summertime space, including program providers, researchers, funders, and policymakers. The presentations and discussions advanced our understanding of interventions designed to support school-age children (Pre-K-12) during summertime across 1) education and learning, in academic subjects and social and emotional domains, and 2) physical health, especially risk for obesity. The workshop also identified gaps in current research
GLR Campaign Managing Director Ralph Smith's comments on are highlighted in the brief:
"The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is less of a pro- gram and more of a movement designed to address three problems," said Managing Director Ralph Smith. First, too many low-income children are too far be- hind in reading readiness when they enter kindergarten. Second, too many low-income children miss too many days of school. Third, too many children return to school in September having lost ground since June. “We built the campaign around seeking to find community-owned solutions to those three challenges,” he said.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is now active in more than 285 communities in 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is sponsored by more than 2,300 local organizations and more than 250 state and local funders. Smith identified three lessons drawn from the last several years.
The first lesson is that summer needs to be rebrandedas a unique opportunity for learning. Summer can be experienced as “a time for exploration, a time for enhancement, a time for support, a time to find and fan each child’s spark, as well as for remediation. We should see all of those as part of a summer learning effort,” Smith said.
The second lesson is that communities can organize to ensure more seamless and coherent transitions from school to summer activities. Summer needs to be more than a plethora of programs from which parents must choose a single program made for part of the day and part of the summer. When schools close for the summer, families still need an institutional anchor. For example, public libraries are ideally situated as omnipresent, ubiquitous institutions, a place that can accommodate a two-generation approach. “In those communities where public libraries are seen as the summer successor to schools,” Smith noted, “we’re beginning to see a qualitative difference in the relation- ship with kids and families.”
The third lesson is that the consumers of summer activities need to be informed to make good decisions. “That means we need to focus on good and timely in- formation as well as the tips and tools that will ensure accessibility, availability, and meet the challenge of affordability.”
“Summer is a time when we could customize and personalize sets of programs, supports, and interventions that would allow [low-income students] not only to avoid the summer slide, but also to catch up and even leapfrog” their peers, said Smith. The challenge and opportunity is to take 200 to 300 hours over 8 to 10 weeks and produce significantly better outcomes. “The opportunity is boundless to use the summer months as a resource for learning—learning in the fullest sense of the word—while simultaneously addressing the needs of low-income children,” Smith said.
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Wonderful news! The GLR Campaign is pleased to mark Attendance Awareness Month by commending twelve public housing agencies as GLR Bright Spots in recognition of their exemplary work to reduce chronic absence.
Read more about the programs these housing agencies have developed to address chronic absenteeism.
Forty-five new communities have joined the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GLR Campaign), a nationwide movement to increase early reading proficiency.
The newest communities to join this collaborative effort include: Boulder County, Colo.; Brevard County, Fla.; 37 counties in the state of Georgia; Cortland County, N.Y.; West Medford, Ore.; Wyoming Valley, Pa.; Newport, R.I.; Dallas, Texas; and Martinsville-Henry County, Va.
The 37 counties in Georgia that have newly joined the GLR Network are partnered together through Get Georgia Reading, a statewide GLR Campaign comprised of people, organizations and communities that applies a common agenda as a framework for action so that all children in Georgia become proficient readers by the end of third grade. The counties include: Baldwin, Bibb (Macon-Bibb), Brooks, Catoosa, Charlton, Clarke, Colquitt, Cook, Crawford, Crisp, DeKalb (East Lake and Kirkwood Neighborhoods), Echols, Elbert, Emanuel, Fulton County (South and Southeast Atlanta), Gilmer, Gordon, Gwinnett, Hancock, Henry, Houston, Jones, Lowndes, Macon, Monroe, Murray, Newton, Peach, Polk, Richmond, Seminole, Telfair, Terrell, Twiggs, Washington, Whitfield and Wilkinson.
Additionally, the City of Atlanta and Glynn County (including Brunswick) have bolstered their local GLR Campaign efforts through an updated Community Solutions Action Plan, expanded reach and additional funding to increase their impact.
“We are thrilled to welcome the newest members of our growing network of communities and see momentum continuing to build,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “Their commitment to this vital mission comes at a critical time when nearly half of the children in the United States under the age of 5 (the years of greatest brain development) live in extreme poverty. Together, we will do what it takes to ensure our nation’s most vulnerable children have the support and opportunities they need to thrive.”