SPRINGFIELD – The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has announced that Springfield has been recognized with national Pacesetter Honors for supporting early school success in 2019, with exemplary work in Big Tent Collaboration and Messaging and Communications. Springfield is one of 21 communities nationwide to be recognized with this honor.
Springfield was also named a Pacesetter finalist for School Readiness, which will be announced this fall. This marks the seventh time Springfield has received Pacesetter Honors by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR). The City was previously recognized in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Reading Success by 4th Grade (RS4G), Springfield’s community-wide grade-level reading proficiency initiative, has engaged a coalition that includes the early childhood education community, the business community, legislators and community organizations, the Springfield Public Schools, Springfield Housing Authority, medical and behavioral health providers, as well as the funding community.
RS4G was launched in 2009 by The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation as a way to galvanize the Springfield community around improving reading proficiency among Springfield’s children. In 2019, Springfield City Library was identified as the new community home for the initiative.
According to Chrissy Howard, RS4G Manager, “As we continue to build our work and collaboration around early literacy, this award is confirmation of the community’s hard work. It is particularly meaningful as the Pacesetter status occurred after transition of the initiative from the Davis Foundation to Springfield City Library, signifying that the cause to improve children’s lives through literacy is firmly rooted in Springfield.”
CGLR received self-nominations from 50 communities, representing 23 states and one Canadian province. The nomination stories were considered, sorted and ranked by panels of over 400 community-based peer reviewers.
According to Ralph Smith, Managing Director of CGLR, “We applaud the civic leaders and local funders whose time, talent, energy and imagination have fueled progress in these Pacesetter Communities. Mobilized communities — like these Pacesetters — support our big bet on the problem-solving potential of proximity.”
Submissions for Pacesetter Honors called for specific examples of ways communities are engaging to fuel progress in early literacy. Springfield cited the 413families community texting program and the #413Reads campaign and social communications as ways of effectively reaching families and the community as a whole. RS4G’s social media reaches families, caregivers, partners and local organizations in Springfield and around the country, with 4,650 followers on Facebook and 1,000 followers on Twitter. Based on feedback from families, RS4G launched an Instagram and saw an increase of 500 followers in one month.
Springfield families with young children are also engaged through the 413families texting program. Launched in 2016 after a focus group of parents conveyed the best way to reach young families is to text them, 413families sends 2-3 text messages per week of reading and parenting tips, information about fun, free things to do in the community, and giveaways. The program has grown to nearly 3,800 families and is a collaboration of seven community partners: Springfield City Library; Springfield Museums; Home City Families/Springfield Public Schools; WGBY Public Television (local PBS affiliate); Baystate New Beginnings (the new parent education program of Springfield’s major health system/hospital); and the Holyoke Early Literacy Initiative (HELI).
For Big Tent Collaboration, Springfield cited its first Early Literacy Leadership Summit in 2019, convening more than 100 community and state education leaders focusing on three areas of early literacy: Policy and Advocacy, School Readiness and Out of School Time.
Over the past year, Reading Success by 4th Grade initiated a Learning and Networking Series, where Springfield leaders from sectors that impact early literacy worked together to align the city’s goals so that systems are working more effectively. Sectors convened include healthcare; housing; early childhood; family child care; nonprofit; philanthropy; public schools; social work; public media; and public libraries.
A collaborative effort by funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship, CGLR focuses on promoting early school success as an important building block of more hopeful futures for children in economically challenged families and communities.
About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading: Launched in 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. Since its launch, CGLR has grown to include more than 300 communities, representing 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and two provinces in Canada — with 5,000+ local organizations and 510 state and local funders (including 200+ United Ways). To learn more, visit gradelevelreading.net and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.
Read! Reading Success by 4th Grade is a broad coalition of leaders in education, child development, business, philanthropy and government working towards the goal of all of Springfield’s children reading proficiently by the end of third grade. To learn more, visit www.readby4thgrade.com.