Community Champions

Editor’s note: While at a recent social event, Bronwyn Beightol, Manatee Area President of United Way Suncoast, had the opportunity to witness a discussion between Steve Roskamp and John Horne.   These two community leaders spent about 15 minutes talking passionately about what they were doing and how they wanted to do more.  By Bronwyn’s own account, “It was awesome! You would expect that from a nonprofit leader, but don’t often hear business leaders truly embracing such a complex challenge.”  Here is her accounting of the meeting

“What are you doing to support Grade-Level Reading?” That’s how the conversation began. John Horne was asking of Steve Roskamp. “How are you involved?”

Steve began to share his story. The ‘why’ and ‘how’ of he and Carolyn’s mission to ensure that every child has access to a quality-learning environment, that we reimagine possibilities and that we ensure that ALL children are reading on grade level.

You can read about Steve and Carolyn’s partnership with Manatee Community Foundation (MCF), School District of Manatee County (SDMC), United Way Suncoast, community volunteers and others through Soar in 4 and LearningPals here:



John had found a like mind. He then went on to share how he and Amanda worked with SDMC, Manatee Libraries, volunteers and businesses to develop an opportunity for children to connect with reading mentors, take home a book to build a home library, and experience a restaurant meal outside of their normal circumstance.

You can read about John & Amanda’s partnership with SDMC, Manatee Libraries, MCF, community volunteers, and others through Dive Into Reading here:


At the end of the conversation, cards were shared, and commitments to future meetings were made. They are by no means finished. There is much more to be done.

Wow! I loved witnessing this interaction.

Two leaders, both passionate and driven, speaking with experience and authority and on a mission to ensure that all of our children succeed. Neither of their paths were easy. It took determination, patience, openness, drive, deploying resources differently, and imagination. Most of all, it took willingness.

For a community movement to thrive, it will take businesses, nonprofits, government, media, and community members. It will involve new ways of thinking. Leadership that is less ‘wait and see’ and more ‘vision and do.’

I am often asked, “What can businesses do to support the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading?”

What do you want to do?

While you are thinking, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. The above! Talk about it. Challenge yourself and your business to think differently. Ask questions. Seek answers.
  2. Find like minds and imagine possibilities together — then do.
  3. Don’t be afraid to fail. When passion and positive intent collide, possibilities abound.
  4. Give. Advocate. Volunteer.
  5. Connect with us.

In an effort to be open and inclusive, we used to say “Nobody owns the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.” Well, that’s not quite true. We have corrected that to “Everybody owns the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.” For our children to thrive, it will take all of our efforts, compassion, drive, vision, and ‘can-do.’

Thank you to Steve & Carolyn and John & Amanda for leading by example.

Join the Movement.


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