City Of Camden's Proposal To Improve Third Grade Reading Selected As Finalist For National Award

Innovative plan to ensure low-income students are reading at grade-level by the end of third grade picked from more than 100 applicants
Monday, June 11, 2012

Jennifer Hammill, Community Relations Director at Center For Family Services, 609-238-1271 or

CAMDEN CITY – An ambitious plan to ensure that more City of Camden children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade has been chosen as a finalist for the All-America City Award, sponsored each year by the National Civic League.
“The City of Camden is proud to be a partner in this collaborative effort to ensure our children are reading on the appropriate grade level,” Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd said. “There is power in numbers, there is strength in ideas, and there is action in all of us.  Working together, we know we will make a difference in the lives of our children and their families.  As a finalist in the All American City Awards, we believe we can take our dedicated efforts to raise literacy levels in Camden to the next level.”
The plan was submitted by a community coalition that included Center For Family Services, American Reading Company, Cooper University Hospital, Camden Cooper Lanning Promise Neighborhood, and the City of Camden.  Camden City is one of 32 finalists selected through a peer review process from a field of more than 100 entries across the country selected. Winners will be announced July 2 in Denver, Colorado.
Beyond the award contest, the Camden’s plan makes the City a charter member in a national movement of local leaders, nonprofits and foundations putting a stake in the ground on third-grade reading.  That milestone 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.
The 124 cities and counties involved in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Community Network are adopting a collective impact strategy, engaging the full community around the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade.  The plans involve schools but acknowledge that they alone cannot address the myriad problems that keep children from learning to read.  The strategies include ensuring that children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed, attend school regularly and keep learning through the summer months.
Camden’s Born to Read is committed to ensuring that 95% of all Camden’s children are reading on grade level by the end of third grade by 2020. Through this initiative, Camden City will build on, expand, and leverage the several successful initiatives already in place and establish new ones as part of a comprehensive and compelling plan for addressing the central challenges we face in improving the reading achievement in our City.
As a charter member of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Community Network, Camden will have access to a Promising Practices Clearinghouse, 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.”