City of Las Vegas Selected As 2013 Pacesetter For Community Effort To Promote Early Reading
National Honor Recognizes Collaborative Campaign To Ensure More Low-Income Students Are Reading On Grade Level By The End Of Third Grade
The city of Las Vegas’ campaign to improve reading proficiency among its youngest students has been recognized as a 2013 Community Pacesetter by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GLR), an honor that reflects the energy, mobilization and creativity that the local community has brought to this important work.
“As I round out my third year as mayor of Las Vegas, I remain committed to ensuring every child has opportunity for a bright future,” said Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman. “The challenges we face require collective community action and I am so proud of the efforts of our city and our community as we begin to develop the foundation from which opportunity will be abundant. We must remain vigilant in our efforts to improve and the acknowledgment as a pacesetter community provides proof we are moving in the right direction.”
The city of Las Vegas, in partnership with the Las Vegas community, launched the Downtown Achieves initiative in October 2013, making it one of the 140 communities working with the GLR Campaign, a nationwide movement of local leaders, states, nonprofits, and foundations putting a stake in the ground on third-grade reading. The communities are adopting a collective impact strategy, engaging the full community around the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade.
. In conjunction with the city of Las Vegas’ priority of community pride, educational attainment has become a focus. Downtown Achieves is made up of multiple government, nonprofit, and private sector partners, and is designed to improve the academic outcomes of children located in seven elementary, two middle and two high schools aligned in a feeder pattern within the Clark County School District. Downtown Achieves intends to ensure the academic success for 12,500 children attending schools in and around the downtown core of Las Vegas.
"We know we can't address the needs of every student in every classroom without the support of our community partners. We appreciate the expanding partnership between the city of Las Vegas and the Clark County School District," said Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky. "It is critical that our students are reading proficient by the third grade in order for them to succeed throughout their K-12 experience and beyond. The city of Las Vegas should be proud of this recognition. Through partnerships like this, our students are better served and our community will foster economic development."
To kick off the initiative, the city in October convened a summit of more than 200 community leaders to identify a common vision for academic success for every student through collective community action.
Since then, the Downtown Achieves leaders, in conjunction with the city, have brought together school leaders and leaders in the fields of transportation and food to begin a dialogue about improving food security and access to transportations for students and their families.
The city is also working with the Teachers Union and the PTA, along with several other organizations and community leaders, to host a “Teachers Summit” a “Parents Summit” and a “student Summit” over the next year.
Most recently, the United Way of Southern Nevada received the Lincy Call For Collaborations Grant, in partnership with the University of Nevada Las Vegas, to focus research efforts on Downtown Achieves schools. The data from the initial needs assessment conducted by UNLV will be made available by mid-year. With the data, Downtown Achieves will form action teams to begin to address needs of students.
The city of Las Vegas has also partnered with the Public Education Foundation to implement the Literacy Liftoff program, a summer reading program in its second year that is designed to help encourage literacy among 96 pre-kindergarten and early elementary students, setting them on a path toward high school graduation
Acknowledging that schools alone cannot address all the challenges that keep children from learning to read, the city’s work with nonprofits and other partners will help ensure that children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed, attend school regularly and keep learning through the summer months.
The city of Las Vegas described its work, challenges and lessons for other communities on the GLR Campaign website’s Tell Our Story page.
“We are impressed and inspired by what the city of Las Vegas has accomplished so far,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and a senior vice president at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “ With its commitment, resourcefulness and collaborative spirit, the city of Las Vegas truly is setting the pace and providing a model for communities across the nation who are seeking to give more children from low-income families a chance at a brighter future."
The city of Las Vegas is one of 35 Pacesetters named for 2013.