An alarming number of children—about 67 percent nationwide and more than 80 percent of those from low-income families—are not proficient readers by the end of third grade. This has significant and long-term consequences not only for each of those children but for their communities, and for our nation as a whole. On average only 70% of Sarasota County’s 3rd graders are reading at grade-level.
Our Role in the Solution
In 2014, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County prepared the Community Solutions Action Plan for Sarasota, and we were accepted into the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
The Community Foundation has chosen to focus where we believe our donors’ dollars will make the greatest impact: the attendance zones for four Title 1 schools with students who are most challenged by achieving reading success—Alta Vista Elementary School, Tuttle Elementary School, Gocio Elementary School and Emma E. Booker Elementary School.
In addition to working with these schools, the Community Foundation has partnered to fund programs focused on these target zones with a variety of local nonprofit organizations. Notable programs include:
- The Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County's Bridges to Kindergarten, an 8-week summer program which focuses on impacting summer learning loss and school readiness for four-year-old children who have been tested as not ready to enter kindergarten. Results: 96% of the children who attended Bridges to Kindergarten tested ready for kindergarten by the end of the program.
- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County's Great Futures Academy, an 11-week summer program for first and second graders from low-income families which focuses on preventing summer learning loss. The curriculum includes targeted reading instruction as well as field trips and other cultural experiential learning activities. Results: None of the children who attended Great Futures Academy experienced summer slide and 90% improved on their reading skills by more than one level.
Other partners include: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, Forty Carrots, Girls Inc., Literacy Council of Sarasota, Notre Dame Club of Sarasota, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota County Libraries, Sarasota Reading Council, and Seeds of Academic Resources.
Our work in early literacy also includes an emphasis on a two-generation approach, working with both low-income children and their parents simultaneously, thanks to the strategic use of social workers in the majority of these programs.
Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
In April of 2015, a collection of local foundations, nonprofit partners, and government agencies throughout Sarasota and Manatee County came together to form the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. This communitywide effort aims to help all children, especially those from low-income families, succeed in school by ensuring they read on grade level by the end of third grade.
The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading focuses on three pillars: promoting school readiness, combating summer learning loss and preventing chronic absence. The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading continues to grow and currently includes representatives from numerous local organizations.
Learn more about the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading