Montgomery County-Dayton, Ohio
The GLR Campaign and National Civic League recognize Montgomery County-Dayton, Ohio, as a 2017 finalist for the All-America City Awards. A three-time All-America City Award winner, Dayton is cited for measurable progress in school attendance and summer learning, as well as for exemplary efforts in promoting civic engagement and inclusiveness. Led initially by Montgomery County, the community has been intensely focused on improving student success starting in preschool. In 2013, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley created the City of Learners Committee to advance this and other goals. Composed of over 70 representatives, the committee hosted listening sessions to gain feedback on fostering a strong education culture. The local GLR coalition’s implementation partnerships include the county’s 16 school districts, the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority, the Junior League of Dayton and the Dayton Metro Library system. The campaign has recently engaged parents through focus groups, data walks and family representation on the Preschool Promise board. The coalition’s focus and County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley’s commitment to making early childhood education a priority resulted in the passage of an increase in the city’s income tax to fund universal preschool for all Dayton 4-year-olds (as well as ensure the city’s ongoing financial stability). Strongly supported by the mayor, the levy funds the Preschool Promise for eight years, with $4.3 million in annual support. Dayton has seen reductions in chronic absence among low-income children in four of its partner school districts, with the highest chronic absence rate among the four at 20 percent in 2012–13. In that same district in 2015–16, the rate had been cut to 14.7 percent. To promote summer learning, two high-poverty school districts partnered with the BELL summer learning program in 2016; their students gained an average of two months in reading proficiency.