Rochester, New York
The GLR Campaign and National Civic League recognize Rochester, New York, as a 2017 finalist for the All-America City Awards. A two-time winner of an AAC Award, Rochester 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. The City of Rochester led the development of a collaborative, community-wide third-grade reading initiative known as ROC the Future, aimed at promoting alignment and focusing community resources to improve the academic achievement of children in the city. ROC the Future’s efforts are supported by over 60 partners across the community that participate in one or more of six workgroups (“Collaborative Action Networks,” or CANs), which guide their work along the cradle-to-career continuum. Notably, ROC the Future has an impressive Convener Board that includes executives from 27 organizations that have contributed funding, in-kind services, backbone support, advocacy and influence. Two key recent achievements include the addition of two new foundations and $1 million in private funding, as well as a $12 million Early Pre-K grant. The Rochester City School District, a critical member of ROC the Future, has established and maintained a laser-like focus on ensuring sustained educational equity, fostering relational capacity, nurturing innovation, building coherence and establishing accountability in serving all students and families. As a result, the community reduced the percentage of chronically absent K–3 students from 37 percent in 2013–14 to 28 percent in 2015–16. Additionally, the percentage of low-income third graders who regularly attended summer school and who maintained or gained in reading over the summer rose from 46.8 percent in 2015 to 54.2 percent in 2016. Also, the percentage of low-income third graders who met the grade-level reading standard rose from 4.4 percent in 2014 to 6.6 percent in 2016.