City of Orlando Campaign for Grade Level Reading
The City of Orlando, through its Families, Parks and Recreation Department, has operated youth programs for nearly 50 years, including after school and summer programs, free of charge for low income children, at 15 community centers and 7 middle schools. Over 85% of the 5,000 children we serve qualify for food stamps, and we are proud of our long legacy of caring for the City’s lowest income children.
Over the past 10 years, under the leadership of Mayor Buddy Dyer and informed by evidence-based practice and national initiatives such as the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Orlando has methodically transformed its after school and summer programs to become platforms for supporting the academic achievement of children.
There are many examples of how Orlando supports academic achievement. Among them: the establishment of a place-based, cradle-to-career effort in Orlando’s lowest income neighborhood, Parramore Kidz Zone, that has resulted in improved academic performance of children at all grade levels; the transition to 21st Century Community Learning Center models in all of the City’s Title I middle schools; the recent award of an AmeriCorps grant through which Student Advocates will be deployed by the City to schools and recreation centers in 6 low income neighborhoods; and the implementation of a summer learning loss prevention program, in collaboration with the school district (Orange County Public Schools – OCPS) at 8 City recreation centers serving children from 1st through 5th grade.
Called the Summer Reading Program, Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) Title I Services Department deployed 12 highly qualified full-time teachers to eight City recreation centers this summer for a 6-week summer reading academy. Through the program, children were engaged in project-based reading activities and, using OCPS’ technology-based instructional tools, read digital books throughout the 6 weeks. Data reveals that by the end of the program, 1,248 elementary school children spent over 43,000 minutes reading at City summer camps.
This is the second year of successful operation of the Summer Reading Program – one that we expect to continue to operate in partnership with OCPS for many years to come.