We’re thrilled to share that the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading received a variety of accolades, including the All-America City Award, a Pacesetter Honor and three Communications Awards, during Grade-Level Reading Week in Denver. The Campaign was recognized for exemplary work to unite the community and engage families in an effort to increase reading proficiency and combat the challenges that can undermine early literacy.
Thanks to the Campaign’s community impact, the Sarasota-Manatee area received the prestigious All-America City Award for its civic engagement to help more young children from low-income families achieve grade-level reading proficiency and early school success. The Suncoast was one of just 15 communities nationwide to receive the award from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the National Civic League, which created the program 67 years ago. Winning communities demonstrated they have moved the needle on outcomes for children in at least two of the community solutions areas (school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and/or grade-level reading), and created a plan for sustainability and for aligning proven programs and strategies.
“All-America City Award winners are communities that address the National Civic League’s key process criteria of civic engagement, cross-sector collaboration and inclusiveness,” said Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. “With Suncoast Campaign Director Beth Duda’s tireless work to engage families, educators, businesses, nonprofits and government, both Manatee and Sarasota counties are making an impact.”
The Suncoast Campaign was one of only 48 communities to be honored as a Pacesetter by the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for leading by example to eliminate barriers faced by children from low-income families on the path to becoming proficient readers. Pacesetters are part of a nationwide network of more than 300 GLR Campaign communities, representing 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The national Campaign recognized the Suncoast Campaign for its excellence in five of six criteria for success, scale and sustainability: supporting parent success and addressing health determinants, driving with data, building cross-sector collaboration, prioritizing children and families in public housing, and utilizing technology for impact.
“We are humbled and energized by this recognition as we acknowledge that it is a beginning, not an end,” said Bronwyn Beightol, chief operating officer of United Way of Manatee County. “We must keep moving forward and continue to purposefully engage all sectors of our community in ensuring all of our children’s grade-level reading success.”
The communications efforts of the Suncoast Campaign were recognized with three Excellence in Communications Awards including Best Website, Best Media Story and Best Event. The Best Media Story award recognized the communitywide coverage about the rollout of Reach Out and Read, a school readiness program that incorporates books into pediatric care, in the Sarasota-Manatee region. Embracing Dr. Seuss’ Differences Day, an event during which the Suncoast Campaign distributed more than 4,000 free books to students throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties, earned the Best Event honor.
“This recognition speaks volumes to the realization of our region’s commitment to a vibrant community for all, our interconnectedness and our willingness to tackle community issues by everyone coming together,” said Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. “We should all be proud of this terrific achievement, and I thank all who are being the ones to make a difference. This is truly the effort of so many people stepping up, realizing that each one of us has the potential to impact another person, a cause, a community.”
The lead supporters of the Suncoast Campaign include the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, The Patterson Foundation and United Way of Manatee County. The Suncoast Campaign maintains strong partnerships with the Manatee Community Foundation, School District of Manatee County, Sarasota County Schools, the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County, Sarasota Housing Authority, Sarasota County Government, Manatee County Government and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.