The GLR Campaign recognizes Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a 2016 Pacesetter for its exemplary work in building cross-sector collaboration, community-wide mobilization and a coalition of local funders committed to increasing the number of students reading on grade level by the end of third grade.
Led by the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Read by 4th coalition has convened an ever-growing network of partners around a shared set of goals, priorities, and strategies to increase grade-level reading. Read by 4th uses every avenue possible — from neighborhood family events to community festivals — to engage a “citizen’s army of heroes” to spread its message and build grassroots participation and ownership. Non-traditional partners, such as barbershops and laundromats, are integral to the coalition’s approach as venues for engaging families. During the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, volunteers built and stocked 150 bookshelves to create inviting “book nooks” for a variety of locations throughout the city — including barbershops and salons, WIC offices, prison visiting areas, community centers, and homeless shelters. Coalition partners (currently 90+ organizations) coordinate messaging to send out consistent communications around topics such as everyday literacy tips and the importance of daily, on-time attendance.
The GLR Campaign also acknowledges the strength and engagement of private philanthropy, which is investing more than $15 million in efforts to improve grade-level reading proficiency in the city.