Shawnee County Coalition Earns 3rd Pacesetter Award

2017 Shawnee County Pacesetter bannerFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                   

Jillian Fisher

Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Pacesetter Honors Announced


Topeka, Kansas (June 11, 2018) – Shawnee County has been honored for the second year in a row as a Pacesetter by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR). The Campaign was cited for exemplary work in eliminating barriers faced by children from low-income families on the path to becoming proficient readers.

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 whom are 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.

“Recognizing Pacesetters is our way of applauding and thanking the civic leaders, organizations and agencies that have joined forces to build brighter futures for children in their communities,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We are learning with them and from them what it takes to move the needle and close the gap. Mobilized communities — like these Pacesetters — are essential to closing the achievement gap.”

Each year, the GLR Campaign uses its Pacesetter Honors to highlight communities that report making measurable progress on key indicators of early school success. These communities serve as proof points and represent the “leading edge” of innovation, impact and improvement within the GLR Network, currently comprised of more than 360 GLR Campaign communities, representing 43 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada.

The Shawnee County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SNCO-CGLR) is comprised of more than 20 cross-sector organizations committed to student success. Led by United Way of Greater Topeka (UWGT), the local campaign was revitalized in 2016 and continued to strengthen collaboration and align promising programs in 2017.

“The local Campaign has found its feet in the past two years,” said Jillian Fisher, lead for the local Campaign. “We are offering more tangible opportunities to the community, and the members of the Campaign are stepping up to make bigger and better things happen. It’s the perfect time to be operating under a collective impact model, with more and more partners working toward similar goals, particularly in education. And it’s always nice to be recognized for your efforts on a national level.”

In addition to the Pacesetter honor, Shawnee County was recognized by the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading with a “Bright Spot,” and two individuals were inducted into the CGLR “Council of Champions.” Bright Spots highlight innovative approaches and promising strategies for achieving bigger outcomes, larger impact and more sustainable scale. Topeka & Shawnee County’s Learn and Play Bus initiative has been named a Bright Spot. The Learn and Play Bus supports a healthy educational start by:

  • engaging families of children under age five;
  • facilitating purposeful play; and
  • connecting families to community resources and parenting information within play interactions.

Council of Champion members are recognized for exemplary service and commitment to the success of theCampaign. Two local champions joined the Council:

  • Veronica Byrd, Parents as Teachers educator and Topeka Housing Authority Youth Services
  • Matt Dinkel, a United Way Young Leaders Society steering committee member and Security Benefit employee

Representatives from the Shawnee County Campaign will be recognized at the upcoming CGLR Week beginning July 23 in Philadelphia. The Campaign also plans a thank you celebration early in the fall.

About the Shawnee County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Shawnee County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is part of a national collaborative effort that works to ensure student success by focusing on an important predictor of high school graduation- reading proficiency by end of 3rd grade. Through a network of community organizations, the Campaign works to reduce the gaps in school readiness, chronic absenteeism, and summer learning loss for children in Shawnee County. Learn more about the
Campaign on Facebook:

About the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Launched in 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. Since its launch, the GLR Campaign has grown to include more than 360 communities, representing 43 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada — with 4,100 local organizations and 510 state and local funders (including 191 United Ways). To learn more, visit and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.