Waukegan’s Collaborative One of 30 Honored As a “Pacesetter” in Early Reading Work
By Michelle Crombie, Vice President of Community Impact
Waukegan Collaborative One of 30 Honored As a “Pacesetter” in Early Reading Work
-Waukegan’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Recognized for Demonstrating Real Progress in Helping Kids
LAKE COUNTY, IL (March 25, 2015) – Waukegan has been recently announced as one of just 30 communities across the nation to be honored with a 2014 “Pacesetter” award by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Led by the United Way of Lake County in partnership with Waukegan School District #60, Waukegan Park District, Waukegan Public Library & Kohl Children’s Museum, the Waukegan, Grade-Level Reading campaign has helped eliminating the achievement gap for third grade reading between Waukegan schools and the state of Illinois. Reaching out to approximately 10,000 low-income children in a district of 17,000 students, the campaign has ensured children from low-income families in Waukegan to enter school with the skills they need, have fewer unexcused absences and increased summer learning opportunities.
Reflecting on the community’s progress since the campaign inception in May 2010, local Grade-Level Reading Lead, Michelle Mittler Crombie, commented, “The Waukegan Campaign for Grade-Level Reading brought together many organizations and dedicated individuals with a shared desire to ensure children in our community are successful. Because of our strong partnerships, several programs were enhanced, a collaborative summer enrichment program was developed and this summer, we plan to offer some exciting new Early Learning programming and an even more comprehensive summer learning program”.
National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders, and four-fifths of those from low-income families, are not reading proficiently. Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a milestone on a child’s path to high school graduation and later success because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of school and struggle throughout their lives.
“The Waukegan Grade-Level Reading Campaign is to be commended as a national leader in this critically important effort,” said Ralph Smith, the managing director of the GLR Campaign. “We’re recognizing the communities that can demonstrate they’re really making a measurable difference in the lives of our children.”
The Waukegan GLR Campaign and the other award winners are part of a nationwide campaign – now operating in 167 communities — that is committed to increasing the number of children who are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. The Grade-Level Reading Communities Network now includes 2,100 local organizations at work in 41 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In joining the network, the communities develop formal plans to address three underlying challenges that can keep young children, especially those from low-income families, from learning to read well:
- School readiness — too many children are entering kindergarten already behind.
- School attendance — too many young children are missing too many days of school.
- Summer learning — too many children are losing ground academically over the summer.
The Pacesetter honorees were selected from among 76 communities in the Grade-Level Reading Communities Network that participated in a series of activities in 2014 designed to strengthen their work. Across the country, communities completed rigorous self-assessments of their progress, mobilized local constituencies through events such as Summer Learning Day and Attendance Awareness Month, and updated their Community Solutions Action Plans.
The GLR Communities Network is dedicated to narrowing the gap between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers. According to the U.S. Department of Education, that gap has widened significantly in recent years, with 80 percent of low-income kids failing to read proficiently in 4th grade compared to 49 percent of their more affluent peers.
About United Way of Lake County: United Way of Lake County (UWLC) is preparing our children to succeed in a changing world by focusing on education and building safe and stable families. We are focusing on four key educational programs: Success By 6 Program—prepare for kindergarten; Reading Success Program—read at grade level; Stay in School Program— graduate high school; and the Safe and Stable Families Program— empowering families. UWLC is overcoming reading and educational barriers by reaching children, from preschool through high school, through these key programs. The overall effect and benefits are multiplied by the strong collaboration with agencies and our community partners. For more information, visit www.LIVEUNITEDlakecounty.org.
About Campaign for Grade-Level Reading: Launched in May 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.