Kansas City selected as Pacesetter community by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

January 15, 2014 - KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
National honor recognizes Turn the Page KC’s efforts to ensure every child in the city can read at grade level by the end of third grade.

Mayor Sly James announced today that Kansas City, through the efforts of Turn the Page KC, has been named a 2013 Community Pacesetter by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Led by the Mayor and an independent Board of Directors working with more than 50 community partners, Turn the Page KC aims to rally the community to achieve reading proficiency for KC children by the time they leave third grade.

Kansas City is one of 35 Pacesetters named for 2013. This award recognizes the accomplishments of Turn the Page KC in its first year of operations to increase awareness and activity around the goal of improving third grade literacy in the community. Turn the Page KC gained national attention among peers and the Grade Level Reading Network with its mobilization efforts around summer learning and Attendance Awareness month in September.

“I am immensely proud of this honor and grateful to Ralph Smith and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for this recognition,” said Mayor Sly James. “Every student deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential and succeed and that begins with reading on grade level by the end of third grade. I’m grateful to all of Turn the Page KC’s community partners and to our partner school districts for their commitment. Without their time, energy, and collaboration, this kind of progress would not be possible.  I’m proud that in Kansas City, we’re focusing on students’ academic achievement rather than on adult-centered issues.”

“We are impressed and inspired by what Turn the Page KC has accomplished so far,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and a senior vice president at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “With its commitment, resourcefulness and collaborative spirit, Kansas City truly is setting the pace and providing a model for communities across the nation who are seeking to give more children from low-income families a chance at a brighter future.”

As part of their work with Grade-Level Reading Network, Turn the Page KC has:

  • Engaged over 50 community partners around the key areas of Attendance, Summer Learning, and School Readiness.

  • Celebrated Attendance Awareness Month in September with area superintendents, educators, elected officials, civic leaders, and celebrities.

  • Partnered with the Upper Room to serve 2,700 students in 2013 during the eight-week summer program. On average, those students gained 5 months in reading over the summer.

  • Led an unprecedented effort with the Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium (KC-AERC) to collect data on students in five separate school district and seven summer learning programs.

  • Recruited 352 community volunteers to serve as reading buddies with 376 students in kindergarten through third grade.

  • Secured a 3-year VISTA grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service and leveraged over $150,000 in private donations.

  • Received a Third Grade Reads grant in 2012 from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Cities of Service and the Target Corporation.

Kansas City is one of the 140 communities working with the Grade-Level Reading Campaign. Turn the Page KC described its work, challenges and lessons for other communities on the GLR Campaign website’s Tell Our Story page.

Launched in May 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a national, research-based collaborative effort to help children achieve reading proficiency by the end of third grade, a key predictor of high school graduation and a milestone missed by fully 80 percent of low-income children. For media inquiries related to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, contact Phyllis Jordan at or .

Contact: Joni Wickham: 816-513-6582 or cell: 816-572-2152