Lane County, Oregon
The GLR Campaign and National Civic League recognize Lane County, Oregon, as a 2017 finalist for the All-America City Awards. Lane County is cited for reporting measurable progress in school readiness and summer learning for children from low-income families, as well as for exemplary efforts in promoting civic engagement and inclusiveness. United Way of Lane County serves as the backbone of the Early Learning Alliance (ELA), which is focused on working together with cross-sector partners to create systems that are aligned, coordinated and family centered to ensure children are prepared to succeed in school and life. The ELA’s primary decision-making body, the Governance Consortium, includes five designated community sectors (health, K–12 education, early childhood education, social/human services and business and community leaders); parents; representatives from rural communities; and individuals who have expertise in equity. The ELA also established a group of “equity advisors” from community-based organizations that work with diverse populations, specifically families who identify as African American, Latino and Native American. These organizations conduct surveys and focus groups with families; provide guidance on culturally-relevant, best practice programming and outreach methods; and implement early learning programs. Through the ELA’s collaborative efforts, developmental screening rates have increased from 28.3 percent in 2013 to 67 percent in 2015, indicating a significant improvement in school readiness for low-income children. Data from the Kids in Transition to School (KITS) summer program reveals progress for low-income kindergartners in the areas of early literacy, numeracy, social-emotional skills and self-regulation. Results from the pilot study indicate there was a 28 percent drop in the number of children at risk for reading failure and a 40 percent drop in the number of children at risk for difficulties with concepts about print. KITS served approximately 11.12 percent of all entering kindergartners in Lane County in 2016, up from 1.5 percent in 2011–12.