Editor’s Note: Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a four-county initiative supported by The Patterson Foundation with lead partners Community Foundation of Sarasota County in Sarasota County, United Way Suncoast in Manatee and DeSoto counties, and United Way Charlotte County in Charlotte County, Florida.
In recognition of its impact for children throughout Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has recognized the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading with Pacesetter Honors.
Each year, the Campaign uses its Pacesetter Honors to highlight communities that report making measurable progress on key indicators of early school success. These communities serve as proof points and represent the “leading edge” of innovation, impact and improvement within the GLR Network, currently comprised of more than 390 GLR communities, representing 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Alberta, Canada.
“Recognition as a Pacesetter affirms the vital work taking place daily in our community to help our children — especially those from low-income families — overcome the barriers to attaining one of the most vital skills for their continued success in the classroom and beyond,” said Beth Duda, director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for The Patterson Foundation. “The Suncoast Campaign is the only four-county effort in the GLR Network to be honored as a Pacesetter, which is a testimony to the power of engaging families, volunteers, businesses, nonprofits, government, and media.”
The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which includes Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties, is one of only six Pacesetter communities to be recognized for its achievement across all three of CGLR’s Pacesetter criteria: Achieving Bigger, Better Outcomes; Making Game-Changing Impacts and Fixing the Brakes on Progress; and Building CGLR’s Community Learning for Impact & Improvement Platform (CLIP).
The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is supported by a coalition of nonprofit community leads in each of its four counties: United Way of Charlotte County in Charlotte, United Way Suncoast in DeSoto and Manatee, and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County in Sarasota. Additionally, The Patterson Foundation works to strengthen the impact of the efforts in all four counties.
Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward high school graduation and career success because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth-graders (four-fifths of whom are from low-income families) are not reading proficiently. Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives.
“Recognizing Pacesetters is our way of applauding and thanking the civic leaders, organizations, and agencies that have joined forces to build brighter futures for children in their communities,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of CGLR. “We are learning with them and from them what it takes to move the needle and close the gap. Mobilized communities — like these Pacesetters — are essential to achieving early school success.”