A national civic education organization is recognizing a community-based literacy initiative that Sacramento launched during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sacramento is a finalist for the National Civic League and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading 2022 All-America City Award.
The award is usually given to 10 communities each year. It recognizes cities for equitable practices in early school success and learning recovery for students in public housing agencies and affordable housing organizations.
“These cities are demonstrating that they can draw on the strength of their communities by harnessing the commitment of local residents, nonprofits and businesses to make a difference in the lives of their young people,” said Doug Linkhart, president of the National Civic League.
The Sacramento Promise Zone, an initiative directed by Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, partnered with the nonprofit Sacramento Literacy Foundation to promote literacy.
“We are excited to be named an All-America City award finalists because we have a great opportunity to show that there are many organizations and individuals in Sacramento who are collaborating together, to work together to provide greater literacy opportunities and solutions for young people,” said Julius Austin, Sacramento Promise Zone’s coordinator.
Together they established one-to-one early reader tutoring, summer reading programming for affordable housing communities, and a GIS mapping tool that shows literacy rates at public schools.
The goal is to have all children in the Promise Zone reading at their respective grade-level.
Austin said that winning the award would help bring attention to literacy.
“It will give them an opportunity to draw funds and resources to our region that will ultimately help improve literacy outcomes in Sacramento,” he said.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the Promise Zone Literacy initiative is an example of Sacramento using inclusive civic engagement to address a critical issue.
“Our children have faced incredible challenges during the pandemic, and this partnership between the Sacramento Literacy Foundation, SHRA and the City of Sacramento is vital to improving student literacy in Sacramento. I am glad to see this program receive the recognition it deserves.”
Other finalists include communities representing 15 different states such as Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. Winners are expected to be announced next month.
Marcus D. Smith covers Black communities for The Sacramento Bee. Marcus is an alumnus of Texas Southern University in Houston. Marcus was raised in Sacramento and is excited to be back home following his passion in journalism.