The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation is collaborating with local school, city, business and nonprofit partners on a community initiative to increase the number of children reading proficiently by the end of third grade in the Cedar Rapids metro area.
On March 12, 2015 over 100 community members gathered at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Cedar Rapids to discuss resources and challenges to improve grade level reading, and began to map a local initiative.
Cedar Rapids joins a network of 167 communities nationwide, including seven other Iowa communities, that are participating in the effort called The Campaign for Grade Level Reading. The local initiative, recently named Reading into Success, is an opportunity for the nonprofits and schools in the metro area to learn from one another, identify more collaboration opportunities, and develop a broad, community-wide system that ultimately leads to reading success for all children.
Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Yet nationwide, every year, more than 80 percent of low-income children miss this crucial milestone. Locally, there is a 21 percent gap with low-income students having a lower reading proficiency rate than their higher income peers.
The goal of the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading is that by 2020, twelve or more states will have a 100% increase in the number of students from low-income homes reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Locally, Reading into Success is focusing on five aspects of a child’s life including kindergarten readiness, attendance, summer learning, every day reading, and health and well-being.
To date, local partners include United Way of East Central Iowa; Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation; the Cedar Rapids Public Library; the five metro school districts including Cedar Rapids Community Schools, College Community Schools, Marion Independent Schools, Linn-Mar Community Schools and Xavier Catholic Schools; The Gazette Company; Grant Wood Area Education Agency; Rockwell Collins; and Diversity Focus.