The Annie E.Casey Foundation’s compelling advocacy for children provided the challenge of the National Civic League’s All -American City Award 2012.
(Yep, the closing–standing ovation–is for MADISON’S OWN, Mike Drahos, as he presented our plan and then sang an original tune.)
The challenge was to show how your community collaborates to improve reading success by the end of third grade. This is the crucial year for the shift from “Learning to Read, to Reading to Learn.” Deficiency here creates an ever widening achievement gap.
The key elements to be addressed were: Kindergarten Readiness, Summer Learning, and Chronic Absenteeism.
The CSAP had demanding requirements asking for both short and long term goals & benchmarks.
Madison’s providers came together to earn one of 30 finalist spots and charter membership in the Grade-Level Reading Communities Network.
Madison’s thesis is: to use our CSAP to become the pilot for other rural counties across America. Our CSAP will be a replicable model for how cross-sector collaboration that is cost-effective and practical can significantly and permanently infuse literacy into all areas of life, especially raising reading achievement by the end of 3rd grade.
All-America City: Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
NATIONAL AWARD FINALIST
Literacy Coalition of Madison County NY
Innovative Plan Picked from More than 100 Applicants
An ambitious plan to ensure that all Madison County children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade has been chosen as a finalist for the All-America City Award, sponsored each year by the National Civic League. In his letter of congratulations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo celebrated our selection, calling the MCLC, “A paragon of collaboration and civic commitment…providing a far-reaching example of how literacy can enrich our resident’s lives.”
Assemblyman Bill Magee (111th District) agrees that, “Being named a finalist for the All-City Award is a testament to the tireless efforts of the Literacy Coalition.” Senator Dave Valesky (49th District) continues the praise, “The Madison County Literacy Coalition has made significant strides in addressing literacy issues throughout the county since its formation in 2009. Being named a finalist for the All-City Award is a testament to the tireless efforts of the Coalition. I congratulate the entire organization for its important work on behalf of the residents of Madison County.”
Led by the new Executive Director, Jay Dunn, the plan was submitted by a community coalition that included schools, libraries, county and state lawmakers, local businesses, foundations, and early childhood care providers. The Madison County Literacy Coalition is one of 32 finalists selected through a peer review process from a field of more than 100 entries from 34 states. The MCLC is the ONLY finalist from the state—outpacing Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and the Bronx Winners will be announced July 2 in Denver, CO at a national conference.
Madison County will sent a team of experts to Denver. They represented the county’s literacy providers, explained the plan and network with future funders:
Beyond the award contest, the Coalition’s plan makes the county a charter member in a national movement of local leaders, nonprofits and foundations putting a stake in the ground on third-grade reading. That milestone marks the point when children shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn. Students who haven’t mastered reading by then are more likely to get stuck in a cycle of academic failure, drop out of school, and struggle throughout their lives.
The 124 cities and counties involved in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Community Network are adopting a collective impact strategy, engaging the full community around the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade. The plans involve schools but acknowledge that they alone cannot address the myriad problems that keep children from learning to read. Especially important in our our county’s plan is the centrality of EVERY public library’s active support and outreach programs. Madison-Oneida BOCES District Superintendent Jacklin Starks said, “Madison County’s collaboration is a model of best practice and demonstrates the power of teamwork. We are extremely proud of their work as it reflects an ongoing theme of our region “Together we can make a difference.”
With funding from philanthropic donors such as the Central New York Community Foundation and the Gorman Foundation, and re-directed federal dollars, the county plans to increase kindergarten readiness, reduce absenteeism, and increase literacy retention over the summer. Madison is typical of many rural counties in the U.S. The Literacy Coalition plans to use our CSAP to become the pilot for other rural counties. Our CSAP will be a replicable model for how cross-sector collaboration that is cost-effective and practical can significantly and permanently infuse literacy into all areas of life, especially raising reading achievement by the end of 3rd grade.
“Now, more than ever, we must maintain focus on early education so that New York can continue to produce the highly skilled workers we will need to fill quality jobs in our region. The Literacy Coalition of Madison County NY does just that by starting our youngest students off on a strong foundation. ” said Congressman Bill Owens (23rd District).
As a charter member of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Community Network, the coalition will have access to a Promising Practices Clearinghouse, an online help desk, peer-learning opportunities, meetings with national experts and policymakers, and a foundation registry designed to expand and replicate successful programs.
John Becker, Chairman of the Madison County Board of Supervisors and honorary chair during the coalition’s formation, sums it up:
“I truly believe in some way we have helped mankind, even if we do so only one person at a time. To learn how to read is a fulfilling right that every person on earth has. That fulfilling right of literacy is empowerment, and empowerment is control of your own destiny. To teach a person to read may shape mankind’s entire destiny.”
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