Dubuque Receives All-America City Award for Efforts to Improve Early Literacy

Dubuque has received the prestigious All-America City Award (AAC Award) for its civic engagement to help more young children from low-income families achieve grade-level reading proficiency and early school success. Dubuque was one of just 15 communities nationwide to receive the award from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the National Civic League, which created the program 67 years ago, during Grade-Level Reading Week in Denver, Colorado at the All-America City Awards.

“Our entire community shares in this honor, as the All-America City Award recognizes the collaboration of so many organizations, educators, parents and volunteers working together to help all our young children learn the skills needed for success in school, regardless of their families’ income status,” said Nancy Van Milligen, president/CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.

To select the 15 awardees, a panel of judges examined the self-assessments from the 27 communities that were nominated as finalists. Community self-assessments are part of a rigorous process designed to help communities reflect on what’s working and prepare for the next phase of learning and action.

The 2017 All-America City Award winners are communities that:

  • Demonstrated they have moved the needle on outcomes for children from low-income families in at least two of the following community solutions areas: school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and/or grade-level reading.
  • Addressed the National Civic League’s key process criteria of civic engagement, cross-sector collaboration and inclusiveness.
  • Created a plan for sustainability and for aligning, linking, stacking and bundling proven and the most promising programs, practices, and strategies.

“It’s an honor for Dubuque to receive an All-America City Award,” said Stan Rheingans, superintendent of schools at the Dubuque Community School District. “The school district is committed to continuing and expanding the work that was outlined in the first Community Solutions Action Plan, and we look forward to working with the network as it plans for the future.”

Dubuque was recognized for making measurable progress in attendance, summer learning and overall grade-level reading for children from low-income families. As a result of the efforts of local partners, the number of kindergartners who were chronically absent in five Title I schools fell from 14.5% in 2014-15 to 9.5% in 2015-16. Results from the Summer Academy, a six-week program facilitated by the Dubuque Community School District, showed that 64.9% of low-income students maintained or improved reading scores in 2016 compared to 56.3% in 2015. At the end of the 2015-16 school year, 59% of low-income third graders were reading proficiently compared with 53% the previous year.

The Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a network of more than 20 organizations dedicated to early care and education. Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward high school graduation and career success, because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders (four-fifths of students from low-income families) are not reading proficiently. Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives.

To learn more about the AAC Award criteria and to view profiles for each AAC Award recipient, visit gradelevelreading.net/aacaward.