Fresno as Pacesetter; Recognized for Second Year in a Row

pacesetter.jpgThe national Campaign for Grade Level Reading named Fresno County as a Pacesetter for 2014.  It is the second year in a row that this community has been honored with this recognition.

Yolie Flores, Senior Fellow for the Campaign was in Fresno and offered these remarks:

Fresno is one of only 30 communities out of nearly 170 across the country that the Campaign is recognizing as Pacesetter for making measurable progress on student outcomes in 2014. Ralph Smith, Senior Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Managing Director of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading reminded us that communities like Fresno “truly represent hope for American education attainment, particularly for children from low-income families. Whether it’s preparing kids for kindergarten attacking the ‘summer slide’ or boosting elementary attendance, these communities are demonstrating that we all can make a difference”.

This Pacesetter award recognized Fresno’s exemplary work for making measurable progress on school readiness outcomes, including a nearly 4 % increase in school readiness levels compared to 2013. The award notes that was accomplished through home visiting and other programs that are giving parents and caregivers the messages, tools and supports they need to promote both early language and literacy as well as healthy on-track child development. But, what we are seeing in Fresno goes far beyond the work in school readiness.

During the last four years the Campaign has learned that there are some common success factors among the communities that truly represent hope for more low-income kids reading at grade level by the end of third grade:

  • Shared ownership of the result and joint accountability for its attainment; • Commitment to reach the kids who are struggling the most to achieve reading proficiency;
  • Local solutions to the challenge of gathering, analyzing and using data to craft strategies and target interventions;
  • Tilting philanthropic and public sector investing toward what’s working, and
  • Foundations, state agencies, business, civic and local leaders taking up the stewardship roles that are essential to scaling and sustaining the work.

In Fresno, we see shared ownership across nearly 100 cross-sector partners, we see an intentional effort to target supports and interventions to low-income kids in kindergarten through 3rd grade, and we see intentional efforts to use data to continuously improve. By the way, let me come back to this piece around your efforts to engage multi-sector partners. Unlike almost any other GLR community across the nation, you have truly understood what the word “collective impact” really means. You truly lead the nation in the type of collaborative you have built – the big tent that you have created.

There is a movement in Fresno to get all kids being on the path to reading proficiency.

What you have done here in Fresno is truly remarkable. You have not allowed even the toughest challenges to derail you. You have been undeterred because you understood that too much was at stake for too many vulnerable children and families. You understood that that for children to win, the adults needed to pull together and take on meaningful work, meaningful collaboration, and meaningful attention to data and results. Because of you – because of your work – we are able to encourage and inspire other communities across the country that we CAN create more hopeful futures for more children.

You are not only part of a national movement – you have helped create one!

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