Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Buffalo Recognized as National Pacesetter Community for Early Care and Education Work

Jul 28, 2015 | Posted in News

Buffalo, NY – Buffalo was honored today as a national Pacesetter Community for its measurable progress in addressing some of the barriers faced by economically disadvantaged children in becoming proficient readers. The Annie E. Casey Foundation Senior Vice President and The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) Managing Director, Ralph Smith, presented the award today and recognized Buffalo’s progress toward the Campaign’s goals of increasing school attendance, increasing school readiness and decreasing summer learning loss. The City of Buffalo is one of 30 communities nationwide to be acknowledged as a national Pacesetter and the only community in New York State to receive this designation in 2014.

Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a milestone on a child’s path to high school graduation and career success because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Students who have not mastered reading by third grade are 13 times less likely to graduate from high school.

This award acknowledges the extraordinary collaboration among the Buffalo Read to Succeed Coalition partners to address critical educational barriers to reading proficiency early on. Successes include a decline in chronic absences in Buffalo Public School students by 6% in Pre-K for the 2013-2014 school year. Also, by the end of the 2014-2015 school year, 96% of Read to Succeed Buffalo students exceeded oral-language targets on nationally normed school readiness assessments.

The Buffalo Read to Succeed Coalition includes over 20 organizations dedicated to early care and education with significant program support from the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood. Read to Succeed Buffalo, which led the coalition, was created by an unprecedented long-term funding partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, The John R. Oishei Foundation and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation that has spanned over a decade. The United Way of Erie County is also a supporter. The Read to Succeed Coalition is now part of the Say Yes Birth to 3rd Grade Task Force.

“The growth and progress that we’re seeing across the CGLR network is nothing short of inspiring,” said Ralph Smith, Managing Director of the CGLR. “As a national Pacesetter, Buffalo is showing what it takes to help assure all kids, especially children from low-income families, are prepared for reading success in the early grades. Whether it’s preparing kids in kindergarten, attacking the ‘summer-slide’ or boosting attendance, the committed community partners in Buffalo are proving that, together, we can make a difference.”

Through its programming and partnerships, Read to Succeed Buffalo works to prepare children from birth through age eight by increasing a child’s exposure to reading and learning opportunities that prepare them for academic success.

“Through our collaborative initiatives, Read to Succeed Buffalo has developed models that provide economically disadvantaged children with the tools they need to be successful in school,” said Anne Ryan, Executive Director of Read to Succeed Buffalo. “Our partnerships and coalition building has allowed us to ensure professionals working with our most at-risk children have the tools proven to close the educational achievement gap. As this designation shows, we’ve made progress and need to continue to mobilize our community by working with our schools, city agencies, nonprofits, civic leaders and parents.”

My Precious Angels Child Care, located in the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood, participates in Read to Succeed Buffalo’s CARE – Community Alignment for Reading Excellence Child Care programming.

“Through our partnership with Read to Succeed Buffalo, My Precious Angels Child Care is better equipped to develop knowledgeable and experienced early child care professionals,” said Felicia Doctor, Executive Director of My Precious Angels Child Care. “CARE is a critical foundation that guides our children towards a path of school success.”

In addition to Pacesetter Community status, Buffalo will play a role in the newest phase of the CGLR as a pilot city for the More Hopeful Futures Initiative, which will launch nationally in 2017.

Formally announced by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in June, the More Hopeful Futures Initiative is an effort to increase reading proficiency among children with a specific focus on mitigating the impact of health issues on early learning. Buffalo is one of 35 Campaign communities that will serve as pilot cities for the More Hopeful Futures initiative.

“We see the More Hopeful Futures pilot city designation as an affirmation of the work already underway in these local communities and that will build upon what these communities are accomplishing,” said Smith. “Our work going forward will draw heavily on the experience, lessons and insights of the civic leaders and public officials in Buffalo and other cities who have mobilized their communities and the state and local funders who have supported the work.”

The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo is the lead funding partner for the More Hopeful Futures pilot project in Buffalo and will work closely with Read to Succeed Buffalo and a number of community partners to address barriers to educational attainment with a focus on health issues.

“The Community Foundation is committed to driving significant community change in support of improving educational achievement for students from low-income families and has been convening partners, leveraging resources and making program related investments ever since to advance this goal,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. “We are invested in realizing the full potential of all members of our community and recognize it will take cross-sector partnerships and collaboration to continue to see real change. We’re eager to begin the next generation of our early childhood work – the More Hopeful Futures Initiative.”

The world economy demands a more educated workforce, and grade-level reading proficiency is the key. Education is the primary route out of poverty and so it emphasizes the importance of improving K-16 educational systems to better prepare all students to succeed in adulthood. The long-term economic health of Western New York is highly dependent upon the educational attainment of its workforce. Educational attainment affects income, employment stability, and a range of other factors.

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