The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) centers our work around five pillars:
During the summer of 2021, thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation, SCGLR conducted the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge, working with 80 different summer camp and summer program providers to encourage more than 5,000 children to read at least six books over the summer months. SCGLR also worked directly with the families of 3,133 children through a program called THIS BOOK IS COOL! Children participating in THIS BOOK IS COOL! received twenty high-quality books, an activity book with enrichment ideas for each book, access to THIS BOOK IS COOL! webisodes highlighting each book, and weekly contact with an SCGLR team member.
As children went back to school, more than 30 members of the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge team gathered for a Zoom meeting to review the experiences of the past ten weeks and share the “orchids and onions” discovered along the way.
The meeting started with a question of the day. Each attendee was asked to think about their summer work experience and share a word that came to mind. Their words gave a powerful glimpse into the heart of this team.
We began by reviewing all of the stages of the project, pointing out the things that worked well (the orchids) and identifying areas we could strengthen in the future (the onions). The admiration and appreciation we have for each other were on full display as we looked at the scope of what had been accomplished. Perhaps team member Ben Tollefson expressed it best when he said, “I am so grateful to be a part of a team of really good people, working hard to make good things happen for children and families.”
We touched on the following areas:
I jotted down some of the orchids as they were being shared:
Team members have been sharing the communications they received from parents. Each comment affirms the work and strengthens our commitment to the children and families of our region:
We also touched on areas we would like to strengthen. We maintained strong communication with 86% percent of the families throughout the summer. We will look for new ways to engage the 14% of families whose interest waned throughout the summer. Picking up the books was difficult for some families because of work schedules and transportation challenges. We will continue to work with community partners to facilitate book distribution. We also are exploring the possibility of having experiential learning opportunities for families at the time of book distribution. Expressed as an onion, but easily recategorized as an aspiration, is our desire to engage even more asset-limited families in summer learning.
We all left the meeting proud of what we had accomplished and excited by the opportunity to strengthen our impact moving forward. This is what a pursuit of excellence looks like in action.