Photo: Ralph Smith speaking at SCGLR's 2022 Annual Update Breakfast

New Contribution Marks Decade of National Grade-Level Reading Support

Posted on January 25, 2023 by The Patterson Foundation
Since 2013, The Patterson Foundation has had the privilege to serve as an Anchor Funder for the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. During that decade-long span, this crucial network has grown from 140 communities to more than 350 in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and two Canadian provinces — including The Patterson Foundation’s home region along the Suncoast. Each one of these communities is connected in its shared commitment to promoting early school success, stopping learning loss, and accelerating academic recovery.

In honor of this decade-long partnership, The Patterson Foundation has contributed $250,000 to the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. This latest gift brings The Patterson Foundation’s total investment in the Campaign to over $2.25 million, which strengthens communities throughout North America working to help more children attain third-grade reading proficiency — a key determinant of success in school and life.

The Campaign works with a broad base of stakeholders to help children reach this milestone by focusing on school readiness, attendance, and summer learning opportunities nationwide. The Campaign also strengthens parents to help them serve as their children’s first teachers while connecting families with health resources to reduce societal challenges associated with reading on grade level.

“Every child is everyone’s child, and each deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. “No single policy or program will achieve that — it takes a holistic, dedicated movement driven by collaboration across multiple sectors. We are fortunate the Campaign has devoted the time, talent, and resources to create and sustain this nationwide movement, even as the pandemic intensified the obstacles to our children’s education and reading comprehension. Strengthening children and families in our home region and beyond is a moral imperative, and our decade of support for the Campaign represents our commitment to this crucial goal.”

At the end of third grade, a child’s education shifts from a focus on “learning to read” to “reading to learn” in their other subjects. Children able to read proficiently by the end of third grade are better prepared for college, a career, and a lifetime of active citizenship — making it a key factor in ending the cycle of generational poverty.

“The Patterson Foundation’s consistent philanthropic support has played an important role in our growth, development and progress over the past decade,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “Even more importantly, because of its leadership and engagement in Suncoast, TPF has been a mission-critical thought and action partner throughout, and especially as we pivoted to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic.”

In addition to its national collaboration with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, The Patterson Foundation serves as the lead partner of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which promotes grade-level reading efforts in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. This regional application of the national Campaign’s learnings and resources has sparked innovations such as Suncoast Remake Learning Days, a 10-day festival providing more than 140 free, hands-on learning events created by organizations throughout the region. More than 10,000 people attended the events in 2022, which highlighted educational opportunities outside school hours to strengthen a child’s learning in the classroom. Suncoast Remake Learning Days will return in 2023 from April 21 to April 30.

The Suncoast Campaign has also worked to create learning opportunities over the summer months through “THIS BOOK IS COOL!” Launched in 2020, “THIS BOOK IS COOL!” is a series of 100 webisodes designed to foster a child’s love of reading and provide families with a source of free books. More than 3,200 children participated in 2022, reading nearly 90,000 books combined.

The Suncoast Campaign has received national recognition for these and other efforts, including multiple Pacesetter Honors, one of the highest awards presented by the GLR Campaign, and the prestigious All-America City Award in 2017 and 2022.

Visit for more information about the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

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