February 6, 2022

THIS BOOK IS COOL! and Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge Data Narrative

Connor LaGrange, TPF Fellow 2021/22

The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) has been described as the elephant within The Patterson Foundation’s (TPF) zoo of initiatives. It is massive, robust, requires a lot of engagement, and is certainly a crowd favorite.

Housed underneath the SCGLR initiative are a myriad of programs dedicated to ensuring the children within the Suncoast region, along with their families, schools, and communities, thrive. One of those offerings, THIS BOOK IS COOL! (TBIC!), in conjunction with the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge (SSRC) occurred over the summers of 2020 and 2021.

Many TPF initiatives have the foundation’s values woven throughout them. One of those values is to manage assets responsibly. Part of managing assets responsibly is remembering to pause and assess the effect TPF’s investments have.

Below is a compilation of data points that demonstrate TBIC! and SSRC’s impact over the last two years. Although TPF often emphasizes outcomes rather than outputs, it is always important to reflect and measure the effect the investment is making so the campaign can remain nimble and continue evolving offerings to best meet the community’s needs..

Both 2020 and 2021 were years riddled with uncertainty. With a pandemic raging and so much of everyday life thrown into turmoil, many of us spent time living in the COPE phase of TPF’s COPE-ADAPT-INNOVATE model.

One bright spot within the lives of many community members was knowing SCGLR would be doing its best to innovate and continue to offer excellence. Although the nature (high-touch, high-visibility) of what SCGLR does within the community was forced to change, the impact was unchanged, unwavering, and as meaningful as ever.

Given that school for so many children within the Suncoast region was disrupted and public libraries closed, it was more important than ever for SCGLR to reach students outside the classroom. TBIC! and SSRC are great ways to ensure students read over the summer and that the summer slide stays on the playground. (The summer slide is a colloquialism to describe learning loss, including the 2.5+ months of reading skill lost by the average asset-limited child.)

To ensure TPF’s investment of resources within TBIC! and SSRC is meeting the community’s needs, three categories of metrics were studied: Human, Material, and Event. These three categories will help to give a better overview and paint a fuller picture of the impact SCGLR has during the summer months.

A new project birthed out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability to be face-to-face with students during the summer was SCGLR’s, THIS BOOK IS COOL! In 2020, SCGLR produced 100 webisodes featuring numerous guests.

In 2021, SCGLR produced an additional 17 webisodes. The three most-watched episodes of THIS BOOK IS COOL! were The Name Jar featuring Ben Jewell-Plocher from Embracing Our Differences with 1,263 views, Rap a Tap Tap featuring Kelli Karen Smith from TPF with 1,070 views, and Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty featuring spoken word artist Cedric Hameed with 923 views.

views

In 2020, 22,220 books were gifted to 1,111 students through TBIC! and the Summer Reading Challenge. However, in 2021, that number nearly tripled at 63,150 books distributed to 3,157 students. This is a testament to the community’s continued need/desire and the SCGLR team’s commitment to outreach and engagement with a wide variety of individuals. Not only was there a large increase in the number of books distributed, but there was also exponential growth (+144,785 from 31,200 to 175,985) in regards to the number of activity sheets distributed.

Another dramatic increase was the number of SCGLR bracelets given out. In 2020, 13,350 bracelets were distributed, and in 2021, 47,200 were distributed, an increase of 33,850. Several items were new to distribution in 2021, including activity books (3,835), master activity books (92), and motivational shower tags (1,800).

distribution

One of the main reasons SCGLR has successfully created meaningful engagement within the community is the extraordinary group of individuals that make up the SCGLR Engagement Team. In 2020 a team of 35 SCGLR staff worked 5,778 hours during the summer to ensure that children within the Suncoast region were still receiving high-quality services. Three team members (Donna Puhalovich, Kelli Karen Smith, and Joan Hansen) put in more than 400 hours of work individually to have things run smoothly throughout the summer.

2021 saw growth in the number of team members, 42, and the total hours worked during the summer, clocking in at 7,026 hours. Four team members (Donna Puhalovich, Kelli Karen Smith, Carolina Franco, and Karen Windon) worked more than 400 hours.

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Now that we have seen a brief glimpse into the excellence of SCGLR’s summer offerings and the continued growth of quality and efficiency, we can now dive into the most important numbers; kids served.

In 2020, a total of 5,302 children within the Suncoast region participated in some form of TBIC! In-Summer or the Summer Reading Challenge. Between these 5.000+ students, 94,383 books were read, an average of 17.8 books per child. These numbers saw a slight increase in 2021, with 9,210 children participating and reading 182,648 books, an average of 19.8 books per child.

children served

Another metric to keep in mind as SCGLR’s summer offerings continue to evolve is understanding the cost per child involved. This information can be found by dividing the cost of employees, summer providers, materials, videographers, etc., by the number of children participating. These numbers are located in the graph below.

financials

These exceptional numbers demonstrate excellence and commitment to ensuring every child is given an opportunity to thrive. But what does the community think?

As the Suncoast Campaign continues to evolve and strive for excellence, surveys are given out to participating families so SCGLR can receive feedback. One highlight from a survey respondent said they loved that it created an opportunity to read with their child. This shows us two things. One, these offerings allow families to feel connected to one another through the power of reading. Two, given that there was minimal in the way of “what can we do better” outside of a few comments regarding “I wish these were in-person,” demonstrates how carefully thought out and planned every aspect of SCGLR’s summer offerings are.

As TBIC! and the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge continues to evolve, it will always be a good reminder to pause and reassess our why – to make sure we continue to be engaged and accessible and to demonstrate TPF’s Five C’s: Caring, Connecting, Collaborating, Contributing, Creating.


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