Chula Vista, CA (PRWEB) June 04, 2012
The National Civic League today announced that Chula Vista’s innovative community plan focused on strengthening students’ grade-level reading proficiency by the end of third grade was selected as a finalist from more than 100 applicants nationwide for the All-America City Award. As part of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading this year, the All-America City Award is sponsored annually by the National Civic League. Chula Vista has also been nominated by the National Civic League for Pacesetter Honors in the plan’s design for improving student attendance.
Chula Vista is one of 32 finalists selected through a vigorous peer review process from a field of more than 100 entries submitted from across the country. Winners will be announced July 2 in Denver, Colo.
The plan was submitted by a community coalition led by Chula Vista Serves and the United Way of San Diego County that included representatives from Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County, Child Development Associates, Chula Vista Community Collaborative, Chula Vista Elementary School District, Chula Vista Public Library, First 5 San Diego, Reach Out and Read San Diego, South Bay Community Services, South Bay Family YMCA, The San Diego Council on Literacy, hospitals, churches and other organizations.
"The planning process for the application brought together people and agencies that would not have met otherwise," said Virginia Hartnett, Program Manager for Chula Vista Elementary School District. "This gave us the chance to expand the possibilities to reach bigger and wider than anyone could have on their own. As a result, we have a truly community-based strategy."
Beyond the award contest, Chula Vista’s plan makes the city a charter member in a national movement of local leaders, nonprofits and foundations committed to improving proficient literacy by third grade - the most important predictor of school success towards high school graduation. That milestone marks the point when children shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn. Students who have not mastered reading by then are more likely to get stuck in a cycle of academic failure, drop out of school, and struggle throughout their lives.
“Education in the United States is probably the most critical economic development issue of our time and preparing students early for high school graduation, college and careers is critical,” said Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox. “Chula Vista’s Elementary School District is exemplary and today another significant step has been achieved in reinforcing the good work that is happening throughout the district’s classrooms.”
The 124 cities and counties involved in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Community Network are adopting a collective impact strategy, engaging the community around the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade. The plans involve schools but acknowledge that they alone cannot address the myriad problems that keep children from learning to read.
Three specific areas have been identified as crucial to helping children read well by the end of third grade and significantly increasing students’ chances of graduating from high school: School Readiness, Student Attendance and Summer Learning.
The Chula Vista Community Solutions Action Plan outlines ambitious but achievable goals for each of the three target areas over the next three years.
School Readiness aims to increase the number of children ready for kindergarten each year by identifying children with developmental or social concerns and providing assistance to them in the years before kindergarten. In addition to offering free developmental screenings to families, several strategies have been identified to help parents convey the importance of literacy to their children.
Student Attendance seeks to decrease the number of students who are chronically absent, i.e. absent 10 percent of more of the school days. Chula Vista has been nominated by the National Civic League for Pacesetter Honors in this area. The elementary school district has an excellent track record for helping students attend school regularly. To support the district’s efforts and help all children attend school regularly, the community identified two particular elementary schools to partner with in the first year of implementation, with more to be added each year.
Summer Learning seeks to maximize reading opportunities over the summer and increase the number of participating children. The crux of this plan is a partnership between the Chula Vista Public Library and the South Bay Family YMCA to extend the Library’s Summer Reading Program into summer camp. Additionally, businesses are invited to establish a Children’s Lending Library by placing a basket of children’s books in their lobby or waiting room this summer. To receive an initial basket of free books or to donate baskets or children’s books, please call 619-691-5175.
“The plan outlines strategies that strengthen and expand existing programs as well as those that are new and innovative,” said Chief Service Officer Amber Weber. “All young people deserve the opportunity to read well and graduate from high school. If every caring adult read a book to a child, tutored a student or mentored a young person, think of the long-term effect it would have not only on the student but also on the community.”
To get involved in the implementation of Chula Vista’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, email CVServes(at)chulavistaca(dot)gov. You may download the complete Community Solutions Action Plan at CVServes.org.
As a charter member of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Community Network, Chula Vista will have access to a Promising Practices Clearinghouse, an online help desk, peer-learning opportunities, meetings with national experts and policymakers, and a foundation registry designed to expand and replicate successful programs.
For media inquiries about the Campaign or the Grade-Level Reading Community Network conference and award ceremony from June 30-July 2 in Denver, contact Phyllis Jordan at pjordan(at)thehatchergroup(dot)com or 301-656-0348 or 202-413-2247, or Stacey Mink at stacey(at)thehatchergroup(dot)com or 410-962-5707.
About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by dozens of funders and nonprofit partners across the nation to ensure that low-income children succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on the most important predictor of school success and high school graduation - grade-level reading by the end of third grade.
About Chula Vista Serves
Launched in March 2011 in partnership with the City of Chula Vista and Cities of Service, Chula Vista Serves is a campaign to increase high-impact service strategies by engaging residents in volunteer efforts to provide solutions for community needs. Its primary area of focus is education. Titled Graduation Works!, this service strategy encompasses the Chula Vista Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which draws attention to community solutions to help students read fluently by the end of third grade; Graduation Coaches, which empowers caring adults to have key conversations with young people they already know to encourage them to graduate.
About the City of Chula Vista
The City of Chula Vista is located at the center of one of the richest cultural, economic and environmentally diverse zones in the United States. It is the second-largest City in San Diego County with a population of nearly 250,000. Chula Vista boasts more than 50 square miles of coastal landscape, canyons, rolling hills, mountains, and a variety of natural resources and quality infrastructure. Established neighborhoods, contemporary communities, start-up firms, corporations, nationally recognized entertainment venues, the nation’s only warm weather Olympic Training Center, an award winning nature center and a historic downtown all contribute to Chula Vista’s attraction for both families and businesses.