Collaboration is woven into our name at United Way Suncoast, and there may not be a better example of that collaborative spirit than our role with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
The Patterson Foundation serves as the regional accelerator for SCGLR’s four-county effort with United Way Suncoast (Manatee), the Community Foundation of Sarasota County (Sarasota), and United Way of Charlotte (Charlotte County) leading the county-specific work.
This collaborative work recently led the National Civic League and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to name the Suncoast Region as one of the 10 winners of its 2022 All-America City Award.
“Congratulations to all winning communities and finalists,” said Doug Linkhart, President of National Civic League. “These communities have shown, even in the face of a global pandemic, that they can bring people together to help kids thrive.”
On July 21, more than 70 people gathered at Sarasota City Hall to watch the SCGLR team, which included United Way Suncoast Chief Impact Officer Bronwyn Beightol, give a 10-minute presentation months in the making. The team, which also included United Way Suncoast board member Ashley Coone, also answered questions from the panel during the final phase of the competition among 20 finalists. SCGLR earned a spot as a finalist thanks to a robust application built around the year’s theme.
Because of the successful presentation and ongoing collaborative effort, our region now stands as one of the nation’s best when it comes to improving prospects for early school success, enhancing equitable learning recovery for vulnerable children and elevating families by using housing as a platform. Other winners: Barberton, Ohio; Los Angeles; Louisville; New Haven, Conn.; Palacios, Texas; Phoenix; Portland, Maine; Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio, Texas.
The jury panel noted that winning communities exhibited a commitment to cross-sector collaboration; meaningful partnerships with public housing agencies and affordable-housing organizations; data-based solutions; and equity, including racial equity.
CGLR also announced that the Suncoast Region received recognition as a 2021-2022 Pacesetters for their work to advance ‘must-do’ priorities for early school success. Only two communities, Suncoast and San Antonio, Texas, received both the All-American City and Pacesetter designations.
“Now more than ever, it is essential to meet families ‘where they are’ through a 24/7/365/multi-generational set of systems, supports and services,” said Ralph Smith, Managing Director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “The 2022 All-America City Award finalists and winners put this commitment into practice and in doing so, work to disrupt generational poverty for young learners and their families. Congratulations.”