Campaign for Grade-Level Reading “Pacesetter Honors” Announced

Virginia Beach Recognized for Work in Supporting Early School Success

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

​The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) announced today that it will recognize Virginia Beach READS with Pacesetter Honors for its work in 2018.

"Recognizing Pacesetters is our way of applauding and thanking the civic leaders, organizations and agencies that have joined forces to build brighter futures for children in their communities," said Ralph Smith, managing director of CGLR. "We are learning with them and from them what it takes to move the needle and close the gap. Mobilized communities — like these Pacesetters — are essential to achieving early school success."

Each year, CGLR uses its Pacesetter Honors to highlight communities that report making measurable progress on key indicators of early school success. These communities serve as proof points and represent the "leading edge" of innovation, impact and improvement within the GLR Network, currently comprised of more than 300 GLR communities, representing 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Alberta, Canada.

"Through our collaborative early learning initiatives, Virginia Beach READS has developed models that provide children with the tools they need to be successful in school," said Barb Lito, GrowSmart Coordinator. "Our partnerships and coalition building have allowed us to ensure professionals working with our most vulnerable children have the tools proven to close the educational achievement gap. As this designation shows, we've made measurable progress and need to continue to mobilize our community by working with our schools, city agencies, nonprofits, civic leaders and parents."

As a member of the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Virginia Beach READS focuses on three pillars of success proven to directly impact reading proficiency. By emphasizing the importance of kindergarten readiness, summer learning and reading proficiency, Virginia Beach READS is committed to moving the needle on school readiness and third grade reading. This pacesetter honors our population-wide progress demonstrated with school readiness and reading proficiency. By connecting with early care and education providers, and families, and engaging our community as reading mentors, we are supporting our early learners to be successful in school.

In Virginia Beach, the local GLR campaign is supported by the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach City Public Schools and the GrowSmart Foundation. The Virginia Beach READS coalition, which is led by GrowSmart, includes over 12 organizations dedicated to early care and education with significant support from the Virginia Beach GrowSmart Foundation. Community partners include Virginia Beach City Public Schools, the Virginia Beach Public Library, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation, the Virginia Beach Department of Health, the Office of Volunteer Resources, the United Way of South Hampton Roads, Square One, Mile High Kids and GrowSmart. 

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 whom are 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.

About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading seeks to disrupt generational poverty by mobilizing communities to promote early school success for those children currently on the high-risk side of the achievement gap. To date, our efforts have helped to spark a "grassroots to governors" movement for ensuring early school success, advancing grade-level reading and reducing chronic absence as important policy priorities. More than 4,100 organizations have formed "big tent" sponsoring coalitions in 300+ communities across 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Alberta, Canada. To learn more, visit and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.

GrowSmart is operated through the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development. GrowSmart exists to promote and improve the healthy development, school readiness and reading proficiency of young children ages 0-8. In addition to providing resources for  parents and families, GrowSmart also offers programming to ensure the availability of high-quality early education. Visit for more information.

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