Topeka, KS – One of 30 honored as a 2014 Pacesetter Community

For Immediate Release
March 20, 2015

Kim Ribelin, Sr. Director – Community Impact
Phone: 785.228.5123


Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Recognizes Topeka, KS
For Demonstrating Real Progress In Helping Kids

Topeka, KS, March 20, 2015 – Today Topeka was named one of just 30 communities across the nation to be honored with a 2014 “Pacesetter” award by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.  United Way of Greater Topeka is the backbone organization for this effort.

Topeka was cited for making “measurable progress” on student readiness outcomes.  The Grade-Level Reading Campaign in Topeka saw a significant improvement in the school readiness of students attending its pre-K programs. Pre-literacy is a critical indicator of future reading success.

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

“Topeka is to be commended as a national leader in this critically important effort,” said Ralph Smith, the managing director of the GLR Campaign.  “We’re recognizing the communities that can demonstrate they’re really making a measurable difference in the lives of our children.”

Topeka and the other award winners are part of a nationwide campaign – now operating in 167 communities — that is committed to increasing the number of children who are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.

This effort addresses three underlying challenges that can keep young children, especially those from low-income families, from learning to read well:

  • School readiness — too many children are entering kindergarten already behind.
  • School attendance — too many young children are missing too many days of school.
  • Summer learning — too many children are losing ground academically over the summer.

The Pacesetter honorees were selected from among 76 communities in the Grade-Level Reading Communities Network that participated in a series of activities in 2014 designed to strengthen their work.  Across the country, communities completed rigorous self-assessments of their progress, mobilized local constituencies through events such as Summer Learning Day and Attendance Awareness Month, and updated their Community Solutions Action Plans.

“United Way and partners across the community are dedicated to narrowing the achievement gap between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers,” said Miriam Krehbiel, President of United Way of Greater Topeka.


United Way brings together people, companies and nonprofits to create positive sustainable change in our community. By focusing on education, financial stability and health, we help more children graduate and get stable jobs, help families become financially stable and improve the overall health of our community. United Way remains dedicated to Basic Needs including food, shelter, rent and utilities, health and prescription access and safety from domestic violence. For more than 80 years United Way of Greater Topeka has been improving and changing lives. Since 1980, United Way has invested more than $110 million into the community.or more than 80 years United Way of Greater Topeka has been improving and changing lives. Since 1980, United Way has invested more than $110 million into the community.


Launched in May 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, 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.  For information about the national campaign, contact Norman Black at or 301-656-0348.