Texas communities have been coming together for many years to support schools and parents in their efforts to increase reading and math skills. Many cities that have created collaborative work focused on supporting children achieve academic success are part of a national network of cities working toward the same goals called the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. In order to become part of the Campaign, stakeholders in each of these cities — including business, nonprofits, government and philanthropy — worked collaboratively to develop a plan focused on increasing reading achievement, proposing specific strategies and identifying local goals related to school readiness, summer learning loss, chronic absenteeism and parental engagement. At the national level, the Campaign provides technical assistance as these communities implement their plans. There are more than 300 communities participating in the GLR Network. Communities are located all across the country. If you’re looking for the lead contact in a Texas community, please contact us.
Here’s a list of Texas communities in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Network:
For the past five years, a growing and cohesive coalition of child and family advocates has worked together on a community plan that reflects our collective wisdom. The School Readiness Action Plan for Austin/Travis County (SRAP) is designed to provide a pathway to our goal – happy, healthy children who enter kindergarten prepared for success – using this audacious and comprehensive plan that no one believed would be easy. The SRAP represents a reconciliation of national research and local practice; a careful compromise between the aspirational and the practical; and a compendium of the voices of
providers, parents, civic leaders and children.
United Way and its community partners evaluated third-grade academic success in the Brownsville community. Third-grade success is an accurate predictor for future academic achievement and after several community conversations, United Way and the Early Childhood Leadership Team created a Community Solutions Action Plan (CSAP) to ensure third-grade academic success. The CSAP’s goals include and address: school readiness, third-grade math and reading proficiencies, attendance, the data challenge, and the summer learning gap.
United Way of Southern Cameron County–Success By 6 is another initiative that is committed to ensuring that children birth to 6-years-old are prepared for school and a life of learning by increasing access to educational activities and providing parents and caregivers with ideas for turning everyday activities into quality, early-learning opportunities.
Early literacy, school readiness and healthy development of young children have been areas of focused attention in Dallas/Fort Worth in recent years. The Start Smart Texas Dallas/Fort Worth initiative contributes to this ongoing work through a collaborative effort of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, KERA and The Commit Partnership, which spearheads Dallas efforts in the Campaign For Grade-Level Reading. All three organizations bring complementary resources and expertise to key issues related to academic success of young students in our city including school readiness, parent engagement and summer learning loss. Examples of their work includes leadership in Early Matters Dallas, a coalition of more than 70 community nonprofits working to develop and implement the first Early Childhood Strategic Plan for Dallas County. In addition, Commit’s advocacy is buttressed by an innovative data dashboard tracking key indicators of educational achievement. And education and equity are at the heart of UWMD’s mission to improve quality of life.
KERA, too, has long made education and equity key parts of its mission by providing educational programming and engaging digital resources for educators and caregivers and producing major events like the annual Summer Learning Challenge for families. In addition, all three organizations extend their reach through partnerships with scores of organizations working day to day to improve the lives of young children across the area.
The Hub’s four-part early learning plan, “Every Child Ready to Succeed”, focuses on school readiness with Kids Club, Books for Babies, PBS multimedia app distribution program, and now Parents as Teachers (PAT) programs. The Campaign for Grade Level Reading’s priority on school readiness focuses on preparing more children from low income families so they are on track and ready for school. The Palacios Community Hub’s programs will help ensure there will be fewer children entering kindergarten with undetected, undiagnosed delays that can impede learning. We are especially excited about future outcomes for Palacios children of our new high intensity PAT program as it prepares children for school readiness and prevents delays in learning through its health screening process!
Just as there is an achievement gap in school performance, there is a school readiness gap that separates disadvantaged children from their more affluent peers. As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for school success. Parents play an enormous role in closing this gap, as do daycare providers, pediatricians, preschools programs, and the broader community. Houston community partners work together to close that achievement gap with a focus on early learning.
United Way‘s ReadyKidSA Coalition, in partnership with the City of San Antonio, Department of Human Services (DHS) and Pre-K 4SA, KLRN, the P-16 Plus Council of Greater Bexar County, San Antonio Housing Authority, local school districts and numerous community organizations are merging resources to help San Antonio’s young children follow the path to reading success and school readiness. Through this collaboration, San Antonio has seen measurable progress in increasing Grade-Level Reading and school readiness. From this community collaborative, the Children’s Agenda was developed creating a Community Scorecard outlining three focus areas and the key indicators driving the goal that all children in San Antonio will be Happy, Healthy and Ready to enter kindergarten. Please visit www.ReadyKidSA.com for a list of resources and more details on this community initiative. For questions, you may contact Kasi McCormick at 210-352-7147 or Katherine King, 210-352-7106.
Education is a cornerstone for success in school, work and life. It is one of the primary keys to breaking the generational cycle of poverty. High school graduates have higher earning potential, contribute more to their local economies, are more engaged in their communities, and are more likely to raise kids outside the limitations of poverty.
Start Smart Texas is a partnership between the United Ways of Texas and Texas PBS created to support Texas communities that are part of the Campaign for Grade-level Reading, as well as other Texas cities, to achieve improved reading scores across our state. Start Smart Texas will provide cities the opportunity to learn from each other and together as we all strive to achieve improved reading scores across the state.