News Releases

Fresno Selected as a Pacesetter for Work in Youth Reading


June 11, 2012

Media Contact: Natalie Garcia, Program Officer: 559-226-5600 Ext. 105, 559-301-8224 (cell), [email protected]


National honor recognizes work in the early years to ensure that low-income students are
reading on grade level by the end of third grade

Fresno, CA The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has named Fresno a Community Solutions PaceSetter for its leadership in addressing the challenges that keep many low-income students from learning to read. 

In the case of Fresno, the local Campaign’s efforts to address summer learning loss have been recognized. The Fresno Campaign understands that children from low-income families often lack the enriching summer experiences — camp, organized sports, trips out of town — of their more affluent peers. 

Compelling research shows summer learning loss will contribute to a 2-3 year academic achievement gap by the end of 5th grade for children living in poverty versus their middle-income peers. This trend continues through high school, leading to the lower graduation rate of children from low-income families. 

“The Foundation recognizes that our local schools are facing increasing budget cuts, and summer programs are no exception,” said Dan DeSantis, CEO of the Fresno Regional Foundation. “Our local campaign aims to increase summer learning opportunities for children and families in poverty through academically-driven and fun activities, so they can start the new school year with summer learning gains along with their middle-income peers.” 

Locally, Fresno’s Campaign for Grade Level Reading is led by the Fresno Regional Foundation and several partners including: First 5 Fresno County, Fresno Unified School District, Fresno County Office of Education, Reading and Beyond, Parent Institute for Quality Education and Central Valley Afterschool Foundation. 

Fresno is one of 124 cities, counties, and towns nationwide that has committed to significantly increase the number of low-income students who read on grade level by the end of third grade. The city will be honored at a national conference in Denver from June 30 to July 2. Several states will also be honored as PaceSetters, and 10 to 15 communities will receive the All- America City award, which is tied this year to the reading campaign. 

The PaceSetter Honors recognize communities that are "leading by example" to solve one or more of the challenges that can undermine early literacy: chronic absenteeism, summer learning loss, and a lack of school readiness. 

The national Campaign for Grade Level Reading has the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade. The plans involve schools, but acknowledge that they alone cannot address the myriad challenges that keep children from learning to read. The strategies include ensuring that children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed, attend school regularly, and keep learning through the summer months. 

"There is no single silver bullet,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign and a senior vice president at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Each of these PaceSetter cities is contributing one more piece of the puzzle."


For media inquiries about the Campaign or the Grade-Level Reading Community Network conference and award ceremony from June 30-July 2 in Denver, contact Phyllis Jordan at [email protected] or 301-656-0348 or 202-413-2247, or Stacey Mink at [email protected] or 410-962-5707.


The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by dozens of funders and nonprofit partners across the nation to ensure that low-income children succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on the most important predictor of school success and high school graduation—grade-level reading by the end of third grade.

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