Camden City, N.J. Selected As Pacesetter For It's Exemplary Work To Promote Reading Skills Among Young Readers

National honor recognizes work in the early years to ensure that low-income students are reading on grade-level by the end of third grade
Monday, June 25, 2012
 For more information please contact Jennifer Hammill, CFS Director of Community Relations at 609.238.1271.
CAMDEN CITY – The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has named Camden City a Community Solutions PaceSetter for its leadership in addressing the challenges that keep many low-income students from learning to read.
Camden City is one of 124 cities, counties and towns nationwide that has committed to increase significantly the number of low-income students who read on grade level by the end of third grade. The city will be honored at a national conference in Denver June 30-July 2 when the full network of communities will gather with nonprofits, foundations and federal and state policymakers. Several states will also be honored as PaceSetters, and 10 to 15 communities will receive the All-America City award, which is tied this year to the reading campaign. Camden City is also a finalist for that award, given by the National Civic League.
The PaceSetter Honors recognize communities that are "leading by example" to solve one or more of the challenges that can undermine early literacy: chronic absenteeism, summer learning loss and a lack of school readiness. In many cases, the PaceSetters still have much work to do. But their efforts provide other communities with promising models to replicate, as well as inspiration for working toward their own creative solutions.
In the case of Camden City, the community is working against incredible odds. Despite being one of the poorest cities in the nation, Camden is making strides to address the consequences of summer learning loss, which can often leave low-income children years behind their classmates. The Campaign recognizes the good work being done by Camden’s Born to Read program, which operates a citywide summer school program in 19 elementary schools.
“We are honored to have the Camden City Born to Read Project named as a Community Solutions PaceSetter,” says Camden City Mayor, Dana Redd.  “Camden City is committed to addressing the challenges that keep children from learning to read and significantly increasing the number of children who read on grade level by the end of third grade.”
Beyond the honors, Camden City’s plan for improving early literacy makes it a charter member in a national movement of local leaders, states, nonprofits, and foundations putting a stake in the ground on third-grade reading. Third grade marks the point when children shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn. Students who haven't mastered reading by then are more likely to get stuck in a cycle of academic failure, drop out of school, and struggle throughout their lives.
"There is no single silver bullet,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign and a senior vice president at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Each of these PaceSetter cities is contributing one more piece of the puzzle."
The network gives Camden City access to an online help desk, peer-learning opportunities, meetings with national experts and policymakers and a foundation registry designed to expand and replicate successful programs.  
 “We strongly believe in the ability of each child to succeed and value the parents, family members, community members, and teachers that impact a child,” says Merilee Rutolo, Vice President and Head Start Director for Center For Family Services. “We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to get the children of Camden City ready for kindergarten and reading at grade level by the third grade, setting them on a path for success in school and in life.”