Initiative aims to improve childhood literacy in Cortland County

The following is a republished press release from Cortland Area Communities That submit your own community announcement, email Peter Blanchard at [email protected]

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Cortland County is developing a literacy plan of community-wide strategies for Cortland County as part of a long-term process to create a community culture that promotes and supports literacy across all ages. This is a community initiative aimed at supporting the important work that our schools and community partners do.

Cortland Area Communities That Care is spearheading this new initiative. Over the past several months, CACTC, in partnership with the Central New York Community Foundation, has begun bringing together stakeholders to discuss ways of improving outcomes for students and families in Cortland County. The coalition brings together existing partners and others in the community interested in working on this issue.

There were over 90 people in attendance at the three forums held in early June at both the Ramada Inn and Cortland YWCA.

As part of developing this community literacy plan for the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, we have formed workgroups around the different areas of focus for the Campaign. These groups will be meeting to kick off their work on:

  • School Readiness: Friday, June 26 at 1:30pm
  • Attendance: Monday, June 29 at 1pm
  • Summer Learning: Monday, June 29 at 2:30pm
  • Adult Literacy: Tuesday, June 30 at 2pm

The first meetings will take place at Main Street SUNY Cortland, 9 Main St., Cortland (upstairs).

The first meeting of the workgroups will give a brief overview of Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, quickly recap what was learned from the forums, discuss the process and talk about next steps (gathering data/information, determining our Vision & Goals, and identifying short-term & long-term strategies).

Cortland County is one of sixteen members in New York State that is part of the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Its goal is to build a network of national and local civic leaders, policymakers, advocates, community organizations, and everyday people. Together they will work toward a 2020 goal of increasing by 100% the number of chidren from low-income families reading proficiently at the end of third grade. Joining the campaign supports and provides resources to Cortland County and ties local literacy goals to national ones.

The campaign is focused on helping communities promote school readiness, tackle chronic absence, and improve summer learning, as well as engage parents as their children’s first teachers.

The campaign is the starting point for CACTC’s Care’s literacy initiative and the group plans to expand to address multiple areas of literacy countywide. The group received initial funding through the CNY Community Foundation and has hired consultant Kim Scott from Literacy Powerline to help with the development of the plan.

Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Yet every year, more than 80 percent of low-income children across the country miss this crucial milestone. In Cortland County, many students score below proficient on ELA tests.

Supporting literacy is not completely new to the Coalition. The “Books To Grow On” Program of the Family Reading Partnership works to promote family reading and ensure that all families in the community have access to quality children’s books in their homes. CACTC serves as the fiscal sponsor, ensuring that 100% of the funds raised by “Books To Grow On” goes directly to providing books for children. In addition, other coalition partners that work on literacy include the YWCA, Cortland County Community Action Program (CAPCO), OCM BOCES and our local schools.

For more information, contact:

Matt Whitman
[email protected]
(607)299-4910 ext. 2

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