Kansas City, Missouri
The GLR Campaign and National Civic League recognize Kansas City, Missouri, as a 2017 finalist for the All-America City Awards. A five-time winner of the All-America City Award, Kansas City 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. Working with over 50 partner organizations, Turn the Page KC (Kansas City’s locally branded third-grade reading initiative) has dramatically increased public support for early learning. Several key organizations have integrated the initiative’s goals into their work, and there has been an increase in the percentage of philanthropic support focused on literacy from birth through age 8. The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, for example, adopted kindergarten readiness as one of its “Big 5 Initiatives.” In order to address the school absence issue, Lead to Read KC recruited, trained and placed over 1,000 volunteers to serve as caring adults in the school building. This includes teams of volunteers from more than 25 businesses who read in 48 classrooms and 74 volunteers from the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) who read with students every week. As a result of its efforts, Kansas City has reduced chronic absence for K–3 students attending Title 1 elementary schools from 15 percent in the 2012–13 school year to 12 percent in the 2015–16 school year. For low-income children ages 5–8, 44 percent increased an average of 23 Lexile points during the summer of 2016, compared with only 7 percent who increased an average of 19 Lexile points during the summer of 2013. Finally, the percentage of students enrolled in Title I schools scoring proficient or above on the third-grade ELA assessment increased from 30 percent in 2012 to 41 percent in 2016.