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News, Updates, and Future Developments of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Sarasota Named one of 38 Communities Nationally Honored as a "Pacesetter" in Early Literacy Work
By Murray Devine / June 2, 2016

SARASOTA FL –  March 8, 2016 -For a second year in a row the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has recognized Sarasota County as a Pacesetter for leading by example to solve the challenges that undermine early literacy – school readiness, school attendance and summer learning loss. The acknowledgment was due in part to a Community Solutions Action Plan, submitted by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, outlining the impact being made in four focus schools, Alta Vista Elementary.

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a national collaborative effort to increase reading proficiency among children in low-income families. Pacesetters are part of a network of more than 240 Campaign communities, representing 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with 2,100 local organizations (including 130 United Ways and 250 state and local funders). The Campaign communities are dedicated to narrowing the achievement gap between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers. 

“Pacesetter Honors are among the highest awards presented by the Campaign,” said Ralph Smith, the managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We are very proud of these communities and the numerous organizations and individuals behind them for joining forces and working tirelessly to uplift children and families. They remind us that we are seeing great progress and real results all across the country."

Initially focused on four attendance zones, with special emphasis on select schools in Sarasota County (Alta Vista Elementary, Gocio Elementary, Tuttle Elementary, and Emma E. Booker Elementary), the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading efforts in Sarasota County saw a reduction in chronic absenteeism, a significant improvement in the school readiness of students attending pre-K programs, and a rise of students attending summer learning programs to improve overall reading levels and prevent summer slide.  

"Through a long history of a commitment to education, proactive donors, effective nonprofit partners, talented volunteers and resourceful school leaders, we’re working together as a community to accelerate progress and make a substantial impact on early literacy,” says Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. “We’re thrilled our mobilized community is paving the way to successful grade-level reading outcomes through innovative programs and the progress of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. We plan to continue being on the forefront of tackling this issue and witness more and more of our 3rd grade students reading on grade level.  We also appreciate the regional Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading’s effort and how it is enhancing our initiative in Sarasota County.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, that gap has widened significantly in recent years, with 80 percent of low-income kids failing to read proficiently in fourth grade compared with 49 percent of their more affluent peers. Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a milestone on a child’s path to high school graduation and career success because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives.

About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading: Launched in May 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, the Campaign has grown to include more than 240 communities, representing 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with 2,100 local organizations and 250 state and local funders, including 130 United Ways. To learn more, visit and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.

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Community Foundation of Sarasota County

2635 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota FL 34237
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