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Springfield Receives All-America City Award for Efforts to Improve Early Literacy

Posted by: Sally C Fuller

Springfield – Springfield has been named a 2017 All-America City for its civic engagement to help more young children from low-income families achieve grade-level reading proficiency and early school success. Springfield was one of just 15 communities nationwide to receive the award from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the National Civic League, which created the program 67 years ago, during Grade-Level Reading Week in Denver, Colorado at the All-America City Awards.

Springfield 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 current reading proficiency for Springfield 3rd graders is 44%, an increase from 33% reading proficiency in 2015. 

Reading Success by 4th Grade, Springfield's community-wide grade-level reading proficiency initiative led by The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation (RS4G) is a collaborative initiative that has engaged a coalition that includes the Springfield Public Schools, the early childhood education community, the business community, legislators and community organizations, the housing authority and medical and behavioral health providers, as well as the funding community.

To select the 15 awardees, a panel of judges examined the self-assessments from the 27 communities that were nominated as finalists. Community Self-Assessments are a rigorous process designed to help communities reflect on what's working and prepare for the next phase of learning and action.

The 2017 All-America City Award winners are communities that demonstrated they have moved the needle on outcomes for children from low-income families in at least two of the following community solutions areas: school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and/or grade-level reading; addressed the National Civic League's key process criteria of civic engagement, cross-sector collaboration and inclusiveness; and created a plan for sustainability and for aligning, linking, stacking and bundling proven and the most promising programs, practices, and strategies.

According to Sally Fuller, Project Director for Reading Success by 4th Grade, "The All-America City recognition demonstrates that collaboration involving all sectors of a community can lead to measurable progress in raising reading proficiency. This honor celebrates our success in Springfield to date and will inspire all of our partners to achieve our ultimate goal: all of our children reading at grade level by the third grade. Reading proficiency proves to be a game changer in the lives of our community's children."

In Springfield, the percentage of K–3 students who were chronically absent declined from 18.2% in 2012–13 to 14.6% in 2015–16. The percentage of rising third graders participating in a summer learning program who maintained or improved their reading level during the summer increased from 76.7% to 83.4% between 2012 and 2016. In addition, Springfield also saw an 11% increase in third graders scoring proficient in reading from 2014-2015 to 2015–16.

Reading Success by 4th Grade has had significant program support from the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success, whose members include Barings; Berkshire Bank Foundation; The Beveridge Family Foundation; Charles H. Hall Foundation, Bank of America – Trustee; Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts; Farmington Bank Community Foundation; Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation; PeoplesBank; SIS Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts; TD Charitable Foundation; United Bank Foundation; and the United Way of Pioneer Valley.

Reading Success by 4th Grade has also collaborated with community partners on the 413 Families text messaging campaign, resulting in 1,700+ families opted in to the campaign that shares free, fun community events and tips for parents.

The GLR Campaign also acknowledges Springfield’s impressive work to prioritize children and families in public housing. Its program with the Springfield Housing Authority, Talk/Read/Succeed! targets families with children from birth through age 9. The program is designed to support parents as their children’s first teachers and develop children’s early literacy skills.

In addition to the 2017 All-America City designation, Springfield was also named an All-America City in 2012, and a Pacesetter Community in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward high school graduation and career success, because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders (four-fifths of students from low-income families) are not reading proficiently. Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives.

To learn more about the AAC Award criteria and to view profiles for each AAC Award recipient, visit

Read! Reading Success by 4th Grade is a broad coalition of leaders in education, child development, business, philanthropy and government working towards the goal of all of Springfield’s children reading proficiently by the end of third grade.

About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Launched in 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, public officials, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. Since its launch, the GLR Campaign has grown to include more than 300 communities, representing 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with more than 3,800 local organizations and 250 state and local funders (including 168 United Ways). To learn more, visit and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.

About the National Civic League

For more than 120 years, the National Civic League has worked to advance good governance and civic engagement to create inclusive, thriving communities. We achieve this by inspiring, supporting and recognizing equitable approaches to community decision-making. Through its signature effort, the All-America City Award and its work on racial healing, sustainability, health equity and fiscal sustainability, NCL supports cities to create a better, more equitable and inclusive future.