Mayor James hosts discussion with community leaders & Ralph Smith of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading


Panelists and guests discuss ideas for improving third-grade reading outcomes in Kansas City, Missouri.

(Kansas City, Mo.) — Mayor Sly James, Ralph Smith, Managing Director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading & Senior Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Chris L. Nicastro, State Commissioner of Education, the Turn the Page KC Community Council and local partners met today to discuss opportunities for improving reading outcomes for kindergarten through third-graders in Kansas City.

Panelists included:

  • Dianne Cleaver, Executive Director of the Chamber’s Big 5 Urban Neighborhood Initiative and civic leader

  • Dr. Robert Bartman, the Superintendent of the Center School District in Kansas City, Missouri and former State Commissioner of Education for the State of Missouri

  • Dr. Michele Kilo, Developmental Pediatrician with Children’s Mercy Hospital & Co-founder of the local Reach out and Read KC organization

  • Mr. Bert Berkley, President/CEO of Tension Corporation and founder of the Local Investment Commission (LINC) and Turn the Page KC Board Member

“Even though the school year has come to a close, the conversation about education in Kansas City continues,” said Mayor Sly James.  “Today’s event was a great opportunity to broaden the conversation and further facilitate collective community action to achieve reading proficiency for Kansas City third graders.  Only 33% of our third graders are currently reading at grade level. We literally cannot afford to let that trend continue and I appreciate that so many people joined together today on behalf of our city’s youngest residents.”

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families 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.

Mayor James’ Turn the Page KC initiative using a multi-faceted, collaborative approach to raising literacy in Kansas City. School readiness, school attendance, and summer learning are key components of these efforts in addition to elevating the importance of reading throughout the community.  Visit for more information and to join the initiative.

Contact: Danny Rotert: 816-513-6581 or cell: 816-547-6418