Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona Department of Education, Arizona
Head Start State Collaboration Office, First Things First, Helios
Education Foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, and other
partners gathered at the Children's Museum of Phoenix recently to
celebrate Arizona being recognized as a "Pacesetter" by the National
Campaign for Grade Level Reading. The event recognized "Read On
Arizona," the new statewide, innovative public/private collaborative of
agencies, foundations, and community stakeholders working to improve
language and literacy outcomes for Arizona's children from birth to age
8 (infant to third-grade).
Read On Arizona builds on the momentum that was created around regional
efforts in response to the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading,
and is broader in scope to address the significant challenges statewide
that Arizona faces in reaching its grade level reading goals.
Ralph Smith, Managing Director of the National Campaign For Grade Level
Reading, was on hand to present the Pacesetter award and said,
"Arizona's commitment to third-grade reading as a statewide priority is
off to a promising start. Communities across the state have joined
forces to help each other succeed. And the exemplary leadership of
Arizona's foundations has inspired us all."
The Read On Arizona collaborative believes that when Arizona reads,
Arizona thrives, and it is helping communities intentionally align
literacy services to develop an early literacy system that delivers the
right intervention, at the right time, for the right child. The
collaborative effort has the bold but achievable vision that all of
Arizona's students will be reading at or above grade level by the end of
third-grade by 2023, so that every child is on track for college and/or
career success. As part of Arizona's Statewide Literacy Plan, the first
Arizona Literacy Director will function as a critical resource to
support Read On Arizona in its implementation of a 10-year strategic
literacy action plan.
The literacy celebration speakers included: City of Phoenix Mayor Greg
Stanton; President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation, Paul Luna;
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Huppenthal; Managing
Director of the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Ralph Smith;
and State Literacy Director, Terri Clark.
"Early emergent literacy is essential for setting a student on a path
for academic and career success," said Paul Luna, president and CEO of
Helios Education Foundation. "Read On Arizona gives communities the
resources they need to prepare children for kindergarten and get them
reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Helios is pleased to
support this collaborative because this work ultimately lays the
foundation for student academic success for years to come."
Arizona statute (ARS 15-701), known as Move on When Reading,
takes effect for the 2013-2014 school year. Students scoring "far below"
on Arizona's AIMS reading assessment test may be retained in the
third-grade until they meet the rigorous reading specifications set
forth in the statute. Reading by third-grade marks a milestone when
children shift from learning to read and begin to read to learn.
"The implementation of more rigorous academic standards puts us on track
to greatly increase the literacy skills of Arizona's children," said
John Huppenthal, Arizona Superintendent of Education. "I join our ther
partners when I say we're excited by the path we see unfolding and
believe Read On Arizona will direct us toward the bold but achievable
goal of reading success for all of Arizona's young children."
Terri Clark, the new Arizona Literacy Director, said, "Read On Arizona
embodies the collaborative approach that is needed to create real and
sustainable solutions to the early literacy crisis we're facing in
Arizona with only 26 percent of Arizona 4th graders being proficient in
reading at grade level. Now is the time for action."
Numerous community leaders, city and business officials, educators, and
parents who are committed to working toward improving the number of
children attaining reading success also attended the celebration,
including: City of Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord; Office of the Governor's
Director of Education Innovation, Rebecca Gau; State Board of Education
Deputy Director, Christine Thompson; Arizona State University Mary Lou
Fulton's Teacher College Dean, Mari Koerner; Maricopa Community College
System Chancellor, Rufus Glasper; Yuma County Superintendent and State
Board of Education President, Tom Tyree; Valley of the Sun United Way
CEO, Merl Waschler, First Things First CEO, Rhian Alvin; Virginia G.
Piper Charitable Trust President and CEO, Judy Jolley Mohraz; Arizona
Community Foundation Chief Strategy Officer, Jim Pitofsky; and corporate
representatives from Target and KPMG among many other community
The initial development of a collective plan to address the important
issue of children reading proficiently at the end of 3rd grade was
spearheaded by three funding partners-Helios Education Foundation,
Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, and the Arizona Community
Foundation-who reached out to partner with four United Ways: Valley of
the Sun United Way, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, United
Way of Northern Arizona, and the United Way of Yuma County. The State
Department of Education, First Things First and Arizona Head Start State
Collaboration Office also played key roles in committing statewide
efforts to "put a stake in the ground" around third-grade reading.
About Arizona Community Foundation
Established in 1978, the Arizona Community Foundation is a statewide
family of charitable funds supported by thousands of Arizonans. With
four regional offices serving communities across Arizona, ACF is among
the top 25 community foundations in the nation with more than $500
million in trust and endowment assets, and is confirmed in compliance
with the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations. Last year,
ACF and its affiliates awarded more than $36 million in grants and
scholarship funding to some 2,500 nonprofit organizations, schools and
government agencies. For more information visit www.azfoundation.org.
About Arizona Department of Education
Arizona Department of Education serves Arizona's education community,
ensuring every child has access to an excellent education. For more
information visit www.azed.gov.
About Arizona Head Start State Collaboration Office
The Arizona Department of Education-Early Childhood Unit administers the
Head Start State Collaboration grant from the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services to establish linkages among Head Start, childcare,
social welfare, health and state funded preschool programs and K-12
Education. For more information visit www.azed.gov/early-childhood/head-start.
About First Things First
First Things First is a voter-created, statewide organization that funds
early education and health programs to help kids be successful once they
enter kindergarten. Decisions about how those funds are spent are made
by local councils staffed by community volunteers. To learn more, visit www.azftf.gov.
About Helios Education Foundation
Helios Education Foundation is focused on creating a high-expectations,
college-going culture in Arizona and Florida by investing in initiatives
that create opportunities for postsecondary education success. The
Foundation focuses its investments across the education continuum in
three key impact areas: Early Childhood Education, the Transition Years
and Postsecondary Scholarships.
As an engaged foundation, embedded in communities across both states,
the Foundation is contributing its leadership, expertise and financial
resources to better prepare students to succeed academically and to
compete in a globally-competitive economy. Since 2006, Helios has
invested over $125 million in education-related programs and initiatives
in Arizona and Florida. For more information visit www.helios.org.
About Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust
A private independent foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust
honors Virginia Galvin Piper's philanthropic commitment to changing
lives and strengthening community in Maricopa County (Arizona). By
investing in nonprofits and encouraging strategic planning for the
future, Piper Trust strives to make Maricopa County a stronger, more
nurturing, vibrant community. Since it began awarding grants in 2000,
Piper Trust has invested more than $300 million in local nonprofits and
programs. The Trust had total grants paid of $21.9 million in fiscal
year 2012. Piper Trust grant making areas are healthcare and medical
research, children, older adults, arts and culture, education, and
religious organizations. For more information visit www.pipertrust.org.
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