The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a nationwide effort to help get all kids reading at grade level by third grade. Grade-level reading by the end of third grade is an important predictor of school success and high school graduation because this is when kids shift from "learning to read" to "reading to learn." Sadly, two-thirds of US fourth graders and four-fifths of low-income students fail to reach this critical milestone. Based on the idea that schools cannot succeed alone, the campaign provides a framework for aligning community stakeholders in support of these efforts.
Launched with a 2015-16 AmeriCorps grant through the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, the Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership is administered by Grinnell College’s office of Community Enhancement and Engagement to support education priorities in the broader Grinnell community. The Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership addresses three specific Grinnell-area education priorities:
- The Campaign for Grade Level Reading (to get all of Grinnell’s kids reading at grade level by third grade);
- The Skills Gap Initiative (to ensure graduates have the skills they need for the workforce); and
- Increased After School Enrichment in Grinnell's after-school programs.
By recruiting a team of AmeriCorps members to serve in local host sites, the partnership will enable a network of community organizations to work together more effectively to advance these goals.
As two institutions dedicated to education, Grinnell College and the Grinnell-Newburg Community School District share goals of excellence and opportunity for the children and youth of Grinnell. To this end, a district/college taskforce was convened in the spring semester of 2015. The task force, comprised of representatives from a variety of stakeholder groups within the community, developed recommendations to forge a more intentional and effective partnership between the two institutions. At the end of its work the taskforce released a report detailing the group’s findings and recommendations. That report can be found here: Grinnell Schools Taskforce Report. A smaller taskforce of district and college representatives has been working during the 2015-16 school year to begin implementing key recommendations.
Iowa Reinvestment Act Application
In 2013, the Iowa legislature created a special tax incentive program to spur economic development in Iowa communities. Grinnell submitted an application to this program with the goal of leveraging our local investments with additional state funds. Grinnell College and the City of Grinnell have a history of collaborative community investments which reflect a shared understanding that the prospects for our futures are deeply intertwined. This application, involving over $127 million in shared investments, reflects that unique partnership and dedication to working together to ensure that Grinnell remains a thriving and active community for years to come.