San Antonio was named an All-America City by the National Civic League today based on its ambitious plan to ensure that more children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.
Chosen from a field of more than 100 entries, San Antonio's plan was submitted by a community coalition that included the Antioch Community Transformation Network, Big Brothers Big Sisters, City Year San Antonio, San Antonio Public Library Foundation, United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, San Antonio Youth Literacy, the USAA Foundation, the University of Texas at San Antonio and YMCA. The community was one of 14 awardees selected from 32 finalists.
"In San Antonio, we recognize that brainpower is the currency of success in the 21st century," said San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. "Those cities that nurture it will be the most prosperous in the coming years and decades. For that reason, we are truly honored by the All-America City Award because it shows we are on the right track to get every child to read by the third grade and put them on a path to academic success and a brighter economic future."
Beyond the award contest, San Antonio's plan makes the city a charter member in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Communities Network, a national movement of local and state 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 awards are given each year by the National Civic League for outstanding civic accomplishments. Ordinarily, applicants choose their own local projects to showcase, but this year NCL is teaming with the Campaign to encourage community-based partnerships to improve reading proficiency among young students.
"This partnership with the Campaign has been an amazing experience for our All-America City Awards," said Gloria Rubio-Cortes, president of the National Civic League which has sponsored the award for more than 60 years. "We were overwhelmed by the quality, passion and thoughtfulness of all the action plans submitted by more than 100 cities, towns and regions. There is a real and deep commitment to ensuring that our children are prepared to succeed."
The 124 cities and counties in the network, representing 350 school districts with 8 million students, are adopting a collective impact strategy, engaging the full community around the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade.
San Antonio's comprehensive plan to increase school readiness, attendance and grade-level reading performance involves setting measurable goals based on independently developed data, preparing students academically for postsecondary success, building teachers' capacity to deliver high-quality instruction to every student and encouraging parents to share in the responsibility for student learning. The city has set an ambitious goal of having 100 percent of third graders reading at grade level by the year 2020.
"It is an honor for the City of San Antonio to receive the All-America City Grade Level Reading Award," said San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley. "We recognize the significance of providing the support and leadership needed to afford children in our community with the equitable opportunity to acquire strong reading proficiency abilities. Through continued collaboration with our education partners, the City will remain proactively engaged in this highly rewarding community-wide learning endeavor. All children deserve an equal ability to learn and achieve."
As a charter member of the Grade-Level Reading Community Network, San Antonio 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.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by dozens of funders across the nation to: close the gap in reading achievement that separates many low-income students from their peers; raise the bar for reading proficiency so that all students are assessed by world-class standards; and ensure that all children, including and especially children from low-income families, have an equitable opportunity to meet those higher standards. For more information, visit www.gradelevelreading.net or contact Phyllis Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-656-0348.
The National Civic League is a 117-year-old nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that strengthens democracy by increasing the capacity of groups and individuals to participate in and build healthy and prosperous communities. In addition to giving the All-America City Awards, NCL publishes the Model City Charter and the National Civic Review. www.ncl.org; www.allamericacityaward.com.
All-America City Award sponsors include: The Piton Foundation; Southwest Airlines-Official Airline of the All-America City Awards; PCL Construction; Mile High United Way; Greenberg Traurig ; US Bank; El Pomar Foundation; JP Morgan Chase; City of Lakewood; City of Aurora; Comcast; FirstBank; Ready Foods; Rose Community Foundation; Western Union; and Denver Health.
Watch the All-America City Awards ceremony.