Manatee-Sarasota was a recipient of the 2017 All-America City Award during a ceremony Friday.
Manatee-Sarasota is one of 15 communities across the country that received the honor from the Campaign for Grade-Level reading and the National Civic League for their efforts to help more children from low-income families achieve grade-level reading proficiency and succeed in school.
The award comes from the three years of work by the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading movement in Manatee and Sarasota, headed by United Way of Manatee County and Community Foundation of Sarasota County with regional support from The Patterson Foundation.
“It’s an honor in that it recognizes the power of partnerships,” said Bronwyn Beightol, Chief Operating Officer of United Way of Manatee County. “For us to see those partnerships and dedication honored, it’s incredible.”
Receiving the award means the community demonstrated they made a difference in at least two community solution areas, hit the National Civic League’s key criteria for civic engagement, cross-sector collaboration and inclusiveness and created a sustainability plan.
Beightol added they’ve started to see the highlights of progress, but they’re not there yet.
Fifty percent of Manatee County students are reading at grade level, according to test results released by the state Department of Education for the 2016-17 school year. It’s a slight increase from 48 percent in 2015-16.
The awards were presented in Denver at the All-America City Awards Gathering held during Grade-Level reading week.