Debra Jacobs, the president and CEO of the Patterson Foundation, Beth Duda, the director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-level Reading, and United Way of Manatee chief operating officer Bronwyn Beightol each shared ways their entities were helping students and encouraged business leaders to get involved.
Reading proficiency by third grade is one of the best predictors of a child’s long-term academic, social and economic success. Eighty percent of low-income children fail to read proficiently in fourth grade, compared with 49 percent of more affluent students, the U.S. Department of Education has reported.
To tackle that problem, the Suncoast Campaign has drawn together both counties’ school districts and library systems, the Sarasota Housing Authority, the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County, the Patterson Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and numerous other government agencies and civic organizations.
This year, the awards focused on communities engaged in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which is being implemented in more than 300 regions and more than 40 states across the country. That campaign works to increase the number of students who are reading at or above grade-level by the end of third grade.
The National Civic League cited the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s ability to “innovatively engage families” in the effort to increase reading proficiency.
The professional development opportunity, funded through the Indian River Community Foundation, also includes a cohort component. Twenty early educators from diverse backgrounds come together every month to discuss new ways to implement the Reggio Emilia philosophy.
For us at Lake Worth West Community Center, we are addressing school absenteeism. While it’s too soon to tell how effective these measures will be, we recognize that school absenteeism is a critical issue and we’ll keep working with our partners, including the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, to look for new and creative approaches to keeping families informed.
One of our most recent pioneering collaborations is with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.