Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

The clock is ticking and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) is busily working toward its goal to “increase by at least 100 percent the number of children from low-income families reading proficiently at the end of third grade” in a dozen or more states by the year 2020.

Back in 2012, CGLR, Strategies for Children, and five Massachusetts cities announced “the creation of a statewide network committed to aligning research, policy and practice to move the needle on third grade reading…”

Since then, CGLR has been active on multiple fronts. Here’s a roundup of some recent accomplishments.


Book Distribution Projects

Using funding from the Krueger Charitable Foundation, WGBH provided grants to promote early literacy by supporting the Massachusetts Campaign for Grade Level Reading.

Six Massachusetts cities — Boston, Holyoke, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester — received grants to distribute books to low-income children.

In western Massachusetts, books were distributed by Pittsfield Promise, which has “set a goal to have at least 90% of Pittsfield third graders reading at grade level by 2020.” Some 450 books were distributed at a monthly street festival called Third Thursdays. And more than 100 books were handed out at World Breastfeeding Day and at K Night at the Museum, an event for kindergarteners at the Berkshire Museum.

Worcester Reads, another CGLR member, used the grant to distribute more than 600 books to children in the Worcester Child Development Head Start program and more than 200 books to Book Buddies Early Literacy Program.

As Kim Davenport, co-chair of Worcester Reads through Edward Street Child Services, explains: “Sharing a story with a young child is an important way for children and parents to connect and build life-long habits of reading. Just 20 minutes a day is all it takes to start a wonderful tradition.”


Pacesetter Honors

This year, CGLR has once again honored Springfield and Worcester as Pacesetter cities that have led on boosting early literacy outcomes from low-income children. These two Massachusetts cities join 46 communities across the nation that have been recognized “for ‘leading by example’ to solve one or more of the challenges that can undermine early literacy — school readiness, school attendance and summer learning.”

As we’ve blogged, these cities “these communities lead by example as they ‘solve one or more of the challenges that can undermine early literacy – school readiness, school attendance and summer learning.’”

In Springfield, “The percentage of kindergarten through third grade students who were chronically absent declined from 18.2 percent in 2012-13 to 14.6 percent in 2015-16,” according to a article.

“Recognizing the Pacesetters is our way of applauding the civic leaders, organizations and agencies that have joined forces to build brighter futures for the children in their communities,” Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, says. “We are learning with them and from them what it takes to move the needle and close the gap.”


All-America City Awards

Last year, CGLR and the National Civic League invited applications for the All-America City Awards. The award recognizes “communities that have made measurable progress for low-income children on the key drivers of early reading success. The winners will be announced this summer at the civic league’s annual conference in Denver, Colorado, on June 14–16, 2017.

“The 2017 awards will look different from the ‘classic All-America City Awards.’ They will be highly focused on the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s – four solution areas,” the National Civic League explains. The four solution areas are school readiness, school attendance, summer learning, and grade-level reading.

Strategies for Children will be at the event, so come join us. Click here to register for the event.


Countdown to 2020

The time to promote early reading is now.

As CGLR says, “Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives.”

A well-read book can improve children’s lives.