The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading: An enterprise funder's perspective

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading: An enterprise funder's perspective

Posted on April 28, 2015 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation

When national and local aspirations align, new realities are created. That is what happened when some serendipity began an aligned partnering journey between The Patterson Foundation and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a national movement to increase the success of children across the country by ensuring they read on grade level by the end of third grade. With an invitation in 2012 to present a workshop on social media at the inaugural gathering of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, The Patterson Foundation (TPF) began its journey in supporting a national network to build connective tissue among communities while partnering in our local region to build a movement to ensure kids are ready for kindergarten, stay in school and continue to learn over the summer. Since 2012, TPF found alignment with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity and culture to invest at the enterprise (national) level via the creation of a network accelerator site supported by an online community manager. Now known as The Huddle, it is a channel to discuss, discern, and distribute relevant information to help communities learn and share. We've learned that embedding lasting change takes effort from every sector: business, government, nonprofits, media, and citizens. The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is unique in that rather than being a standalone 501c3, it is an agile backbone, bringing sectors to the table from AARP to Target to PBS to HUD. Evidence-based tools for success are developed and shared with communities across the country. The Annie E. Casey Foundation has been the founding catalyst and the largest investor, but their investment is attracting additional enterprise co-partners that will propel the Campaign to greater achievement via programs and policy improvements. In our local region, thanks to the Community Foundation of Sarasota's work in literacy and early education, they submitted a Community Solutions Action Plan that qualified Sarasota to join the Campaign as one of the now 160-plus communities.  Thanks to the deep work in one school, Alta Vista Elementary and community partners, the progress made in student achievement earned Sarasota 2014 Pacesetter status, an honor given by the national Campaign to those communities making measurable progress on student outcomes. As TPF's strategic role at the national level continues, there are additional possibilities emerging for impact, allowing TPF easy access to the evidenced-based proven practices, national thought leaders, and to the best-thinking and Campaign for Grade-Level Reading assets. As the local work deepens via the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the entry of neighboring Manatee County as a Campaign community, and TPF's approach of engaging business, government, nonprofits, media and citizens, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading will benefit from TPF's work at the national level.  And locally we can demonstrate pivot points and excellence that can be shared nationally. Yes, there are countless leverage points when The Patterson Foundation works locally and beyond in an aligned and networked approach.

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