Turn the Page Milestones

November 19, 2012 - KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

Kansas City Mayor Sly James joined with community partners to mark significant milestones for the Turn the Page KC initiative. Turn the Page KC is the Mayor’s initiative to ensure that every child in Kansas City can read at grade level by the time they leave third grade.

After a community planning effort involving hundreds of community volunteers and over 50 partner organizations, the Mayor announced the formation of a Board of Directors for Turn the Page KC. “I cannot thank this high-powered and incredibly talented founding Board of Directors enough. When the community sees the caliber of the leaders who have agreed to serve and steer this effort, the priority our community is putting on this critical project will be very clear,” said Mayor James.  The input of the partners who helped craft the plan will be maintained by regular convenings of a Community Council.

Serving on the inaugural Board of Directors will be:

Mayor Sly James

Mr. Tim Barton, CEO of FreightQuote.  Entrepreneur Tim Barton founded Freightquote in August of 1998. Tim’s accomplishments have been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine, listing him in the top five of their Hot 100 ranking, Ernst and Young rewarding him with Entrepreneur of the Year, Forbes Magazine among their Best of the Web rankings and most recently by Ingram’s Magazine as the Chairman and CEO of one of Kansas City’s Best Places to Work For.

Mr. Bert Berkley, Chairman of the Board of Tension Corporation. Mr. Berkley is  grandson of the Company’s founder and has served as President and CEO of Tension Corporation. Mr. Berkley also founded the Local Investment Commission (LINC) which began as a bold experiment in finding the best way to organize services for working families. LINC is now one of Kansas City’s cornerstone service agencies.

Ms. Sandra A.J. Lawrence, Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer of Children’s Mercy Hospitals. Ms. Lawrence holds a bachelor’s degree from Vassar, a master of architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Prior to joining Children’s Mercy, Ms. Lawrence served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Midwest Research Institute, Vice President of Gateway and President of Stern Brothers & Co.  Ms. Lawrence serves on the Boards of the Hall Family Foundation, the Nelson-Atkins and Westar Energy.

Mrs. Judy Heeter, President of Pathfinder Consulting, has 30 years of senior-level leadership experience.  Formerly Director of Business Affairs and Licensing for the Major League Baseball Players Association and Senior Partner with Polsinelli Shughart, Mrs. Heeter has served as the chairperson of the Turn the Page KC Steering Committee since its inception.  She chairs the Board of Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance Company, and serves as a Director of Enterprise Financial Services Corp and numerous civic organizations.

Mrs. Carol Hallquist, President of Hallmark Corporate Foundation.  Ms. Hallquist has over 30 years of marketing, product development  and non-profit leadership experience at Hallmark, Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register. She serves on boards of local Teach For America, the Kansas City Zoo Advisory board, and Operation Breakthrough.  One of four founders of all-female angel investing group, one of seven in the US.

Dr. Uzziel Pecina, Assistant Clinical Professor of Educational Administration at University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dr. Pecina holds an Ed.D. in educational leadership from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has both classroom and academic educational experience. Dr. Pecina has served as Principal of Alta Vista Charter High School and Summer School principal at Academie Lafayette Charter School.

Dr. Donna Houpe is the First Lady and Executive Administrator of Harvest Church International Outreach and Faith Academy. Dr. Houpe possesses over 29 years of experience in educating children. Dr. Houpe has authored several literary works by way of poetry and inspirational writings and holds a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education from Southern University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She also received a masters degree in education from Louisiana State University. Dr. Houpe recently received a doctoral degree in christian education from Faith Bible College.


The Board of Directors will lead the now incorporated 501(c)3 non-profit Turn the Page KC initiative in furthering its core goals of assessing early reading programs, determining what works and promoting and providing resources to successful programs. The organization will build on the work accomplished by hundreds of community leaders who created the Community Solutions Action Plan (CSAP) last spring. After development, the CSAP was vetted by experts and leaders across the country who provided feedback to improve the plan to help all Kansas City children read at grade level by the time they leave third grade.

The results of the planning and collaborative community discussion are yielding results. Mayor announced the first major grant awards in support of Turn the Page Kansas City. The Cities of Service grant was one of only eight awarded nationally from the Bloomberg Foundation and funded by Target. The grant is for $40,000 and will assist four key Kansas City, Missouri school districts: Park Hill, Kansas City, Center and Hickman Mills.

The grant will be used by Turn the Page KC to increase grade level reading scores among targeted first through third graders by one grade level. In service of that goal, the funding will help recruit and maintain 500 new and past literacy tutors. Volunteers will be in place by the end of January and be trained. The Cities of Service grant will measure impact of those volunteers and ensure that students have at least a full semester of matched tutoring.

The second award is from the AmeriCorps VISTA national service program. The grant, for approximately $50,000, has helped to fund five VISTA volunteers currently serving in four districts. Since their hire, the VISTA volunteers have recruited 143 volunteer literacy tutors, who weekly average 358 students receiving are getting at least one hour of literacy tutoring a week.

Finally, the Mayor highlighted initial numbers from this summer’s focused eight-week summer reading program run by Upper Room. City interns devoted nearly 1,200 hours, joining 3,700 other volunteers at multiple reading sites throughout the City. Thousands of students read, or had read to them, an average of 75 books a piece this summer. Volunteers contributed 9,700 hours to the program.

The eight-week program hosted at 30 sites throughout the city tutored 2,443 students. Preliminary results show that 81% of those students improved their reading scores one-half grade level.

These grant announcements join the contributions of Rosen Publishing of New York, who earlier this year donated of 10,000 books to the Kansas City, Center, Hickman Mills, and Grandview school districts valued at $175,000. The books were distributed to second and third graders throughout the City by the Local Investment Commission (LINC).

Today’s announcement comes during Families Read Aloud Month, a joint project of Turn the Page KC and the Building a Community of Readers initiative of the Kansas City Public Library.Throughout the month of November, families are encouraged to read aloud to one another for one hour every week.

“Turn the Page KC’s primary focus is marshaling a community-wide effort, gathering resources and using a data-driven process to promote programs that work to improve reading scores of our youngest students,” said Mayor James. “We have a long road ahead, but I am excited to celebrate the progress we are making. It will take a sustained community effort. This is not about who gets credit but rather that we are focused on helping young learners read. I have read to hundreds of students at nearly 20 schools since my term began. We can all help change the future for our youngest Kansas Citians for the better  — that begins with reading.”

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