Strengthening its mission to achieve reading proficiency across the community, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) has expanded to Charlotte County. Through the Campaign, Charlotte joins a movement of more than 390 communities in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Canada that are committed to closing achievement gaps, ending intergenerational poverty, and reducing high school dropout rates by ensuring that children can read proficiently by the end of third grade.
According to the Florida State Assessment from 2018, 63 percent of students in Charlotte County can read on grade-level when leaving third grade. About 23 percent of those students live in poverty. Like each of the communities involved in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Charlotte County will work to increase third-grade reading proficiency by focusing on three key solution areas proven to impact a child’s reading ability: school-readiness, attendance, and summer learning.
“Charlotte County Schools is pleased to be part of SCGLR,” said Steve Dionisio, superintendent of Charlotte County Public Schools. “This partnership confirms the value of our community working together to ensure all children succeed in school and in life.”
Part of the nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the SCGLR is a communitywide effort involving partners from several sectors throughout Charlotte, Manatee, and Sarasota counties, with aligned efforts underway in DeSoto County. Lead partners for SCGLR include United Way of Charlotte County, United Way Suncoast, and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The Patterson Foundation provides strategic resources and support to this regional effort.
“With our mission to eliminate poverty in Charlotte County, we bring people, resources, and organizations together to accomplish more than any of us can do as individuals,” said Angie Matthiessen, executive director of United Way of Charlotte County. “Our partnership with the SCGLR embodies this approach, maximizing efforts supporting our community’s children today and in the future.”
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading launched nationally in 2010 with the mission to ensure that all children, especially children from low-income families, are proficient readers by the time they finish third grade. Proficient reading at the end of third grade is imperative to a student’s future academic success. The Campaign involves collaborative efforts from people, businesses, nonprofits, government, and the media to accelerate progress toward shared aspirations.
“Fawcett Memorial Hospital has a long history of investing time, talent, and resources toward the education of our community’s children,” said Bill Hawley, president and CEO of Fawcett Memorial Hospital, a supporter of SCGLR’s work in Charlotte County. “This is a sound investment toward the development of our future workforce, and we encourage Charlotte County’s business community to learn about the campaign’s efforts and contribute to this movement.”
“We are grateful to be part of SCGLR,” said Ashley Maher, executive director of the Charlotte Community Foundation. “Along with United Way of Charlotte County, Charlotte County Public Schools and other partners, this community commitment will provide additional resources and opportunities toward success for our youth.”
Prior to its new commitment, Charlotte County collaborated with SCGLR on aligned efforts such as assembling 1,100 Kindergarten Readiness Bags for all incoming kindergarteners in Charlotte County for the 2018-2019 school year. The bags were filled with learning tools, flash cards, alphabet letters, and a Kindergarten Readiness Parent Guide explaining how to use the tools to practice important school-readiness skills.
“While Charlotte County may be new to SCGLR on paper, it is no stranger to the importance of third-grade reading proficiency and has been hard at work connecting children and their families with solutions that move the needle on this crucial milestone,” said Beth Duda, director of SCGLR for The Patterson Foundation. “By joining this communitywide effort, Charlotte County has the opportunity to tap into learnings from the work underway elsewhere in the region and hundreds of communities throughout the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s network.”