Home > United Way | Live United > Tupelo/ Lee County Joins Nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading


City Leaders, Agencies Commit to Boosting Early Literacy

TUPELO (July 25, 2018) –  Tupelo and Lee County are taking a big step toward improving student success by joining the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GLR Campaign), a collaborative effort to improve reading proficiency, early learning and early school success for children from low-income families.

“Grade-level reading is an important issue for Tupelo/Lee County and all of Northeast Mississippi,” said Melinda Tidwell, President of the United Way of Northeast Mississippi. “Kids who are reading on grade-level by the end of the third grade have better academic outcomes and better potential for future employment. That ultimately means more stable families and stronger communities as a whole.”

Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward high school graduation and success later in life because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives.

In Tupelo/Lee County, United Way of Northeast Mississippi and the Toyota Wellspring Education Fund at the CREATE Foundation sponsor the local coalition. Community representatives have collaborated to develop action plans to ensure all of our children are reading at grade-level by the end of third grade.

The action plans address three underlying challenges that can keep young children, especially those from low-income families, from learning to read proficiently: school readiness, school attendance and summer learning.

“We are thrilled to welcome the newest members of our growing network of communities,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “Their commitment to this vital mission comes at a critical time when too many children are falling beyond the reach of schools. We need systems that can assure 24/7/365, two-generation supports and interventions. By taking up this challenge, each of these communities commits to do more, to do better and to make a difference in assuring more hopeful futures for the next generation.”

Membership in the GLR Communities Network gives Tupelo/Lee County access to experts and policymakers focused on early literacy, assistance in addressing the challenges that keep many children from learning to read and opportunities to share and learn best practices from more than 380 communities in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada.

About READ First (Tupelo/ Lee County)

READ First (Campaign for Grade-Level Reading) is a community-wide partnership in Tupelo/Lee County to ensure all our children reach their full potential. This initiative began with a partnership between United Way of Northeast Mississippi and the CREATE Foundation through the Toyota Wellspring Education Fund. READ First works with both Tupelo and Lee County School districts, which serve approximately 14,000 students. Additional partners include 55 daycare/childcare centers, the Head Start agency and many business and nonprofit leaders. The community of Tupelo and Lee County has united and made a commitment to our children’s success.

About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Launched in 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. Since its launch, the GLR Campaign has grown to include more than 380 communities, representing 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada — with 3,900 local organizations and 450 state and local funders (including 185 United Ways). To learn more, visit gradelevelreading.net and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.