Start Smart Texas Communities

Start Smart Texas Communities

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.

Bryan/Brazos Valley:

The vision of the Brazos Valley partnership is to participate with community wide programs and initiatives to improve readiness for kindergarten and ultimately achieve significant improvement in 3rd grade reading levels.

One of the goals for the Brazos Valley is for each county and community to achieve 75 percent of 3rd grade students reading at the appropriate level. The partnership seeks to improve the reading aptitudes of children in the region by increasing access to books and literary sources, raising awareness to the importance of education, and engaging parents to read to their children early and often.

Corpus Christi:

The Success By 6 Early Childhood Coalition promotes and improves the quality of early learning and development. The initiative’s work addresses the needs of children and families to position children on an early path toward life-long success. Our end goal is safe, healthy, learning and developing children within the context of their families, for a stronger, more prosperous community.


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.



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.


Lubbock Area United Way has long been committed to early childhood education on the Texas South Plains in partnership with Lubbock ISD, Frenship ISD, and Lubbock-Cooper ISD – the three largest school districts in Lubbock County. Our Start Smart Collaborative is focused on ensuring that every child is kindergarten-ready and that all children are grade-level readers by third grade.

Approximately 1 in 8 people in Lubbock County are functionally illiterate and approximately 1/3 of children are not ready to enter kindergarten. While STAAR testing scores are improving in Region 17, they vary between 72% and 76% passing rate which falls slightly below the state average. Region 17 has a high school graduation rate of 91% which is consistent with the state average. Our community is working toward surpassing all state and national averages to give all children on the South Plains a bright future.

Our collaborative has implemented:

  • United We Read, a program focused on second-grade readers that brings community awareness about the importance of reading to and with children.
  • The Summer Reading Calendar, highlighting free and low-cost reading and STEM events throughout the summer months to prevent “summer slide.”
  • And plans to install “Little Free Libraries” at all school campuses within Lubbock County.


Midland’s collective early learning work began with the 2016 creation of Educate Midland to serve as a backbone organization to align quality education through community support and partnerships.

The Early Childhood Action Network (ECAN), a working group of local partners involved in early childhood education, began discussions about creating a strong community effort around family engagement. The ECAN set goals for increased family engagement using the Bright By Text project of United Way of Midland and improved kindergarten readiness using data from the Early Development Instrument (EDI). The ECAN has aligned agencies/programs that prevent summer slide and started convening a Hispanic Leadership Team for sharing best practices for family engagement with English Language-Learner families.



The Palacios Community 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!

For more information, contact Cassandra Austin (361) 972-9990,,,


San Antonio:

ReadyKidSA Coalition, led by United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County in partnership with the City of San Antonio, Department of Human Services (DHS) and Pre-K 4SA, KLRN, the UP Partnership, HEB, local school districts, corporate partners, and numerous community organizations are merging resources to help San Antonio’s young children follow the path grow Happy, Healthy, and Ready. 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 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.



The Tyler Area Partnership 4 Education was launched in 2014 with the support of Smith County business, nonprofit and education communities. Over 40 organizations from across the community have come together to work collectively to improve the lives of Smith County residents. Representatives from Smith County public school districts, public and private higher education institutions, business and faith-based communities, municipalities, philanthropic organizations and nonprofits have come together to implement these collective strategies for a greater tomorrow.

The over-arching goal of TAP4E is to increase the percentage of Smith County residents possessing post-secondary credentials by 2025. The Tyler Area Partnership 4 Education leadership team oversees a unified, cross-sector initiative to improve educational progress in our region. Work groups focus on 4 areas: Kindergarten Readiness, Middle to High School Transition, Graduate HS College Ready, and Post-Secondary Attainment for Gainful Employment.



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.