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Grade-Level Reading



The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship.

Research shows that proficiency in reading by the end of third grade enables students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn, and to master the more complex subject matter they encounter in the fourth grade curriculum. Most students who fail to reach this critical milestone falter in the later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma. Two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders are not proficient readers, according to national reading assessment data. This disturbing statistic is made even worse by the fact that more than four out of every five low-income students miss this critical milestone.


The Campaign was founded in 2010 by three partners: America's Promise Alliance; Council for a Strong America: Mission Readiness; and, United Way Worldwide. It was developed in response to Leila Fiester's Early Warning: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters. This study was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which continues to be the research partner for the Campaign.

The Campaign launched in 2012 with 124 charter communities. The ultimate goal is to have more than 12 states increase by at least 100% the number of low income children reading proficiently by the end of third grade by the year 2020. The focus for 2016-2020 is "moving the needle." The implementation partners for the Campaign are the National Summer Learning Association and Attendance Works (United Way Worldwide is part of the latter). The Smarter Learning Group provides technical assistance to members in the Network.
Currently there are more than 300 communities in 42 states across the nation, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with 2,300 local organizations and 250+ state and local funders, including 130 United Ways.


Every community develops its own strategy through the development of a "Community Solutions Action Plan (CSAP)." The CSAP includes a community overview, explanation of the current situation, desired outcomes, a strategy for implementation, data collection, and a plan for sustainability.
Three subcommittees address the focus areas of the CSAP:
  • Increasing the number of children ready for school
  • Increasing the number of children attending school on a regular basis
  • Increasing the number of children engaged in summer learning
Although schools must be accountable for helping all children achieve, providing effective teaching for all children in every classroom every day, the Campaign is based on the belief that schools cannot succeed alone. Engaged communities mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities to serve as full partners in the success of their children are needed to assure student success.


We all know the research around literacy and success in school and beyond. Unfortunately, for some schools in our community, more than 75% of the children are NOT reading proficiently at the
end of third grade.
In December 2017, Erie County submitted a comprehensive CSAP to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and has been accepted as an active member of this national initiative. Through implementation of this CSAP, the many pockets of work and resources that exist in the community supporting early literacy and success in school will be strategically coordinated.
United Way will act as the backbone organization but will rely on the many partners and subject matter experts in the community to effect increased third-grade reading proficiency.


There are currently seven active communities in PA:
  • Erie
  • Lehigh Valley
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh/Allegheny County
  • Reading/Berks County
  • Wilkes-Barre/Wyoming Valley
  • Scranton/Lackawanna County
All PA active communities are led by United Way except one. Statewide partners include United Way of PA and Pennsylvania Department of Education.
A strong network is emerging across the state:
  • Quarterly meetings
  • Sharing of best practices
  • Advocating for state policy
  • Bi-monthly calls


Mr. Phillip Belfiore

Mercyhurst University


Ms. Char Berringer

County of Erie


Mr. Court Gould

The Erie Community Foundation


Ms. Bea M. Habursky  

Erie's Public Schools


Mr. Shantel D. Hilliard  

Booker T. Washington Center


Ms. Cherie Kinem

Housing Authority of the City of Erie


Mrs. Darlene E. Kovacs

Early Connections


Dr. Erinn D. Lake

Edinboro University


Dr. Dean Maynard

NW Tri-County Intermediate Unit


Dr. Mary Jo Melvin

Edinboro University


Ms. Joyce Miller PhD  

Northwest Institute of Research


Mrs. Donna Miller   

Girard School District


Ms. Erika A. Ramalho

Gannon University


Mayor Joe Schember

City of Erie


Dr. Pamela Silver

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College


Attorney Tom A.Tupitza

Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett


Ms. Erin E. Wincek   

County of Erie


Learn More at

Attendance vs. Truancy Information Sheet