Lafayette County-Oxford-University, Mississippi
The GLR Campaign and National Civic League recognize Lafayette County-Oxford-University, Mississippi, as a 2017 finalist for the All-America City Awards. Lafayette is cited for making measurable progress in both school readiness and overall grade-level reading for children from low-income families, as well as for exemplary efforts in promoting civic engagement and inclusiveness. The local GLR coalition includes an especially strong and diverse set of partners representing various sectors of the community, including both local school districts (Lafayette and Oxford), LOU United Way, Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction at the University of Mississippi, University Museum, the Oxford Park Commission (OPC), Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, LOU Home and the Oxford Housing Authority, LOU Excel by 5, child care providers, early intervention and health care service providers, and other literacy-related programs and organizations. The coalition is divided into four workgroups, reflecting the GLR Campaign’s framework, to advance the work of the coalition and increase community participation. Participation in the Campaign has increased understanding among coalition members especially about the interrelationship among strategies and activities that promote literacy, health and wellness. The coalition also hosts free community events, such as the annual EXCELebration, quarterly play dates and parent workshops that help parents understand how to play with their children to boost development and early literacy skills. As a result of its GLR campaign efforts, Lafayette reports the following measurable progress: There was a dramatic improvement in the percentage of economically disadvantaged children entering kindergarten who scored proficient: 29 percent of entering kindergartners scored proficient in fall of 2014, while 50 percent scored proficient in the fall of 2016. Also, drawing on data collected in the spring of 2015 and 2016, the community saw a slight increase in the percentage of first graders who are proficient in reading, from 94 percent to 95 percent.