Louisville was named an All-America City by the National Civic League today based on its ambitious plan to ensure that more children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.
Chosen from a field of more than 100 entries, Louisville’s plan was submitted by a community coalition that included Metro United Way, the Louisville Office of Youth Development, the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood, Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance, MUW Community Impact Cabinet, Louisville OST Coordinating Council, and the Wallace Foundation. The community was one of 14 awardees selected from 32 finalists.
"I am delighted that the All-America Cities program recognizes the potential of our plan," said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. "As a city, we are united with one common agenda: to make Louisville a well-educated city where getting off to a good start toward learning is part of everyone’s job and is ingrained into our DNA. It is now time to add muscle to our work – there is no limit to what we can achieve through focus, teamwork and perseverance."
Beyond the award contest, Louisville’s plan makes the city a charter member in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Communities Network , a national movement of local and state leaders, nonprofits, and foundations putting a stake in the ground on third-grade reading. That milestone marks the point when children shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn. Students who haven't mastered reading by then are more likely to get stuck in a cycle of academic failure, drop out of school, and struggle throughout their lives.
The awards are given each year by the National Civic League for outstanding civic accomplishments. Ordinarily, applicants choose their own local projects to showcase, but this year NCL is teaming with the Campaign to encourage community-based partnerships to improve reading proficiency among young students.
“This partnership with the Campaign has been an amazing experience for our All-America City Awards,” said Gloria Rubio-Cortes, president of the National Civic League which has sponsored the award for more than 60 years. “We were overwhelmed by the quality, passion and thoughtfulness of all the action plans submitted by more than 100 cities, towns and regions. There is a real and deep commitment to ensuring that our children are prepared to succeed.”
The 124 cities and counties in the network, representing 350 school districts with 8 million students, are adopting a collective impact strategy, engaging the full community around the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade.
Louisville’s plan includes developing a public awareness campaign to educate parents and providers about the importance of reading, improving the quality of preschool programs and using the SMART ED early warning system to identify students on track for chronic absenteeism. In addition, the city’s Every1Reads initiative will provide hundreds of literacy volunteers for summer programs while the Kindergarten Countdown program will offer information, t-shirts, free books and summer events to incoming kindergartners.
As a charter member of the Grade-Level Reading Community Network, Louisville will have access to a Promising Practices Clearinghouse, an online help desk, peer-learning opportunities, meetings with national experts and policymakers and a foundation registry designed to expand and replicate successful programs.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by dozens of funders across the nation to: close the gap in reading achievement that separates many low-income students from their peers; raise the bar for reading proficiency so that all students are assessed by world-class standards; and ensure that all children, including and especially children from low-income families, have an equitable opportunity to meet those higher standards. For more information, visit www.gradelevelreading.net or contact Phyllis Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-656-0348.
The National Civic League is a 117-year-old nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that strengthens democracy by increasing the capacity of groups and individuals to participate in and build healthy and prosperous communities. In addition to giving the All-America City Awards, NCL publishes the Model City Charter and the National Civic Review. www.ncl.org; www.allamericacityaward.com.
All-America City Award sponsors include: The Piton Foundation; Southwest Airlines-Official Airline of the All-America City Awards; PCL Construction; Mile High United Way; Greenberg Traurig ; US Bank; El Pomar Foundation; JP Morgan Chase; City of Lakewood; City of Aurora; Comcast; FirstBank; Ready Foods; Rose Community Foundation; Western Union; and Denver Health.