Sitting in the airport waiting to leave for what would turn out to be an inspiring week of connectivity, recognition and vision sharing, I saw two little boys running around and exploring. When I focused in, I noticed that both were wearing T-shirts with the following phrase: “THE FUTURE IS HERE!”
Indeed it is!
I’ve shared before that I believe the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) is not actually about reading… it’s about our future, our democracy and our ability to invest in and guide our own lives as we imagine possibilities. How we invest in our children is the best indicator of our society’s aspirations for our future. And, the future is here.
Consistent themes of #GLRWeek were the importance of meeting community members through place-based initiatives; engaging parents and caregivers in their children’s success as their first teacher; creating partnerships and investing in strategies that involve systems change and policy advocacy; ensuring literacy-rich environments for children over the summer; engaging our housing authorities; listening, connecting and, simply, moving forward when challenges arise.
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As funders, we were asked the question: Does your giving adequately express how deeply hopeful you are about this work? If we truly believe that we can make a difference, we must stay the course, correct as needed, and give passionately to achieve true impact. Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) makes sure that every child is part of the conversation, and the recognition bestowed upon the SCGLR movement in Manatee-Sarasota acknowledges that we are truly on the right path.
Thanks to SCGLR’s community impact, the Manatee-Sarasota area received the prestigious All-America City Award for our civic engagement to help more young children from low-income families achieve grade-level reading proficiency and early school success. The Suncoast (Manatee-Sarasota) was one of only 15 communities nationwide to receive the award from the National CGLR and the National Civic League, which created the program 67 years ago. SCGLR is also the first-ever community to receive the award as part of a two-county effort!
SCGLR was also one of only 48 communities to be honored as a Pacesetter by the National CGLR for leading by example to eliminate barriers faced by children from low-income families on the path to becoming proficient readers. Pacesetters are part of a nationwide network of more than 300 GLR Campaign communities. The national CGLR recognized the SCGLR for its excellence in five of six criteria for success, scale and sustainability: supporting parent success and addressing health determinants, driving with data, building cross-sector collaboration, prioritizing children and families in public housing, and utilizing technology for impact.
The communications efforts of the Suncoast Campaign were recognized with three Excellence in Communications awards including Best Website, Best Media Story (thanks to the Bradenton Herald and Herald-Tribune’s coverage of Reach Out and Read, where pediatricians prescribe books for parents to read with their children) and Best Event (Embracing Our Difference Dr. Seuss Day, where volunteers read Dr. Seuss books in 636 classrooms reaching 11,482 students. SCLGR purchased 4,000 books that were distributed to Title 1 schools.)
Recognition of this magnitude is humbling and exhilarating, yet does not signify the end. That’s where my true takeaway comes in. We will not achieve the level of trust that it takes to change the trajectory for our children unless we consistently engage all sectors of our communities: business, nonprofit, media, government and citizens.
Doing so means we need to spend time together. Imagine together. Strategize together. Believe together. Have fun together.
Join the movement: www.gradelevelreadingsuncoast.net