The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) announced today that it will recognize Story County Reads with Pacesetter Honors for its work in 2018. The local Grade Level Reading campaign, Story County Reads, is supported by United Way of Story County, which operates as the backbone agency for the collaboration. Key partners within the collaboration include Raising Readers in Story County, YSS, Ames Public Library, Iowa State University and Ames Community School District. There are over 30 organizations that actively participate in work group or team meetings related to Story County Reads.

“Recognizing Pacesetters is our way of applauding and thanking the civic leaders, organizations and agencies that have joined forces to build brighter futures for children in their communities,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of CGLR. “We are learning with them and from them what it takes to move the needle and close the gap. Mobilized communities — like these Pacesetters — are essential to ensuring school success.”

Each year, the GLR Campaign uses its Pacesetter Honors to highlight communities that report making measurable progress on key indicators of early school success. These communities serve as proof points and represent the “leading edge” of innovation, impact and improvement within the GLR Network, currently comprised of more than 360 communities, representing 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Alberta, Canada.

Story County Reads is being recognized as a 2018 pacesetter in all three indicated categories: 1) “Achieving bigger, better outcomes” – in the area of school readiness, 2) Making game-changing impacts and fixing the brakes on progress – in the areas of focusing funder collaboration and strengthening cross-sector collaboration, and 3) Building the Community Learning for Impact & Improvement Platform – for being a leading group in creating the new online learning platform. “Story County Reads, our multi-partner collaboration, is passionate about ensuring youth in our communities across the county are in school, ready and able to learn.” said Malai Amfahr, Story County Reads director at United Way of Story County. “Our purpose remains strong in that we all have hope for future generations and work to create those opportunities that lift up the youth in our communities. Literacy is the vehicle that moves us forward.”

The Story County Reads collaboration uses a collective impact model of working together that includes goal and resource alignment in the areas of school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and general literacy proficiency. Youth programs implemented by service providers involved with Story County Reads intentionally infuse literacy in program elements.

Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward high school graduation and career success because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” National tests showed that in 2017, 63 percent of U.S. fourth-graders were not reading proficiently. Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives.