Delray Beach, Florida
The GLR Campaign and National Civic League recognize Delray Beach, Florida, as a 2017 finalist for the All-America City Awards. A previous two-time All-America City Award winner, Delray Beach is cited for reporting measurable progress in school attendance, summer learning and overall grade-level reading for children from low-income families, as well as for exemplary efforts in promoting civic engagement and inclusiveness. When Delray Beach found that only 50 percent of its children were reading at grade level by third grade, community leaders issued a “call to action.” A local coalition was created that studied the issues, took ownership and committed to be accountable. Key to the success of the ensuing campaign was negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding with Palm Beach County School District to share student data. Also significant was the campaign’s ability to leverage the mayor’s support in enhancing local school, family and community partnerships. In 2016, the campaign launched the Mayor’s Task Force on Family Engagement, which included 40 members of the community including educators, parents, students and nonprofits. Despite early challenges in engaging non-English speaking families, the task force found ways to reach families successfully. District and city support for interpretation services for Spanish and Creole families enabled the task force to engage parents of children from Title 1 schools in developing solutions to increase parental involvement in supporting early literacy and learning. Between 2011–12 and 2015–16, the percentage of low-income K–3 children who were chronically absent was reduced from 6.54 percent to 2.1 percent. The results of an evaluation of Delray’s 2016 summer programming reveal that there was a significant increase in the mean reading scores for program participants, in contrast to prior summers that produced no statistically significant gains. In addition, Delray Beach saw an increase of 22 percent over two years in the number of low-income children reading proficiently.