The Suncoast’s steadfast efforts to help our children and families succeed in school and life have been recognized on a national stage. Our region, encompassing Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties, has been named a 2022 All-America City Award winner and a Campaign for Grade-Level Reading 2021-2022 Pacesetter Award winner.
Since 1949, the National Civic League has recognized and celebrated the best in American civic innovation with the prestigious All-America City Award. The award, bestowed yearly on ten communities, recognizes the work of communities in using inclusive civic engagement to address critical issues and create stronger connections among residents, businesses, and nonprofit and government leaders. Cities, counties, tribes, and community organizations of all types are invited to apply for the annual designation.
In March, 20 communities were designated finalists for the award based on robust applications around the year’s theme: “Housing as a Platform to Promote Early School Success and Equitable Learning Recovery.” After months of preparation, a group of government and nonprofit leaders representing all four counties provided a virtual community presentation to a jury panel, which then selected the ten winners. Other 2022 All-America City Award winners include communities such as Los Angeles, Louisville, Phoenix, and San Antonio.
The National Civic League, along with co-convener Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, presented the All-America City Award in recognition of our region’s commitment to cross-sector collaboration; meaningful partnerships with public housing agencies and affordable-housing organizations; data-based solutions; and equity, including racial equity. This is our region’s second All-America City Award, following its first win in 2017.
“We are happy to designate the Suncoast Region as an All-America City,” said Doug Linkhart, president of the National Civic League. “They showed, even in the face of a global pandemic, that they can bring people together to help kids and families thrive.”
Within the Suncoast Region, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading uses a two-generation lens to invest in education and certification for parents, caregivers, and children while aligning mental health support with academic success. Through its data-driven approach, over 17,000 asset-limited children received resources, and almost 200 parents enrolled in college programs. The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading also partnered with organizations such as the Sarasota Housing Authority to implement several initiatives to combat educational inequities and poverty cycles.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading awarded our region its 2021-2022 Pacesetter Award during GLR Week 2022, a week-long series of virtual events spotlighting how dozens of states are working to advance early school success and accelerate equitable learning recovery. The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading won the award for addressing the Summer and COVID learning slides through community collaboration empowering parents and fostering summer learning engagement through its THIS BOOK IS COOL! webisode library.
“The Suncoast Region is meeting families where they are through a 24/7/365/multi-generational set of systems, supports, and services,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “In doing so, the community is working to disrupt generational poverty for young learners and their families.”
“These awards are a testament to our community’s cross-sector collaboration and its innovative work to strengthen children and families throughout our four-county region,” said Beth Duda, director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for The Patterson Foundation. “Engaging families, educators, businesses, nonprofits, and the government gives rise to assets and partnerships that continue to create long-term impact. We are honored to be recognized alongside the inspiring communities nationwide that share our commitment to creating these brighter outcomes.”
Learn more about the Suncoast Region’s award-winning efforts and its GLR Pacesetter Award. Follow @SuncoastCGLR on Twitter and Facebook, and use #GLReading.