Wake County, North Carolina
The GLR Campaign and National Civic League recognize Wake County, North Carolina, as a 2017 finalist for the All-America City Awards. Wake County is cited for reporting measurable progress in school readiness, school attendance and summer learning for children from low-income families, as well as for exemplary efforts in promoting civic engagement and inclusiveness. WAKE Up and Read (WUAR), Wake County’s locally branded GLR campaign, encompasses a broad coalition that includes businesses, Chambers of Commerce, the public library, the school system and numerous nonprofit organizations including Motheread Inc., Marbles Kids Museum, Reach Out and Read, WakeEd Partnership, Books Are Magic and the Wake PTA Council. The effort has incorporated a strategy that builds children’s home libraries to promote reading and combat summer learning loss, coupled with literacy training for families and educators. Families are enrolling in Ready4K, a literacy texting support, at pediatric offices and clinics, public and private pre-K classrooms, and a partnership to prevent homelessness. WUAR is also initiating partnerships with barber shops to spread messages about the importance of reading. The local campaign works with partners, including the school system, to identify higher-needs communities and schools to concentrate services to those children who need it most. This aligns with other public services, such as Wake County Human Services. Countywide results in school readiness are impressive: The percentage of incoming kindergarten students in all Title I elementary schools scoring proficient or above went from 22 percent in 2014–15 to 34 percent in 2016–17. Additionally, chronic absence among K–3 students in Title I schools supported by WUAR decreased from 9.5 percent in 2014–15 to 7.5 percent in 2015–16. Among rising first- and second-grade students in the targeted Title I schools, summer learning losses were reduced from 22 percent in 2015 to 10 percent in 2016.