Telegram & Gazette
Article by Nick Kotsopoulos
WORCESTER — The city is in the running for a 2017 All-American City Award, which this year is focusing on early childhood education and literacy.
Worcester has been named a finalist for its ongoing efforts to improve grade-level reading, expand summer learning, reduce health barriers that impact school attendance and expand access to early childhood education.
The city has already been honored as a Pacesetter community by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which is awarding the All-American Award this year.
Ten awards are typically given at the annual All-American City Convention. This year’s convention will be held in Denver in June.
Worcester is a five-time All-American City Award winner and last won that honor in 2000.
Not all cities seek the designation.
Patrick Lowe of Leadership Worcester, the community lead on the city’s 2017 application, said although the city has won the award five times in the past, this year’s effort is special.
“We brought together a tremendous team from the community - young leaders, teachers, funders and early childhood educators - to rally around this award and celebrate the tremendous programs in our city focused on improving early education,” Mr. Lowe said.
Kim Davenport, co-chairman of Worcester Reads and managing director at Edward Street Child Services, said the All-American finalist designation and the Pacesetter Award recognize the city’s strategic collaboration to address key issues that can impede a child’s success.
“Worcester is on the move,” Ms. Davenport said. “We are seeing the momentum across the city. Even more exciting is that we are changing the trajectory for our youngest citizens.”
City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said he is honored to have Worcester recognized as a leader in early childhood education and literacy.
“Children make up 20 percent of our population, but 100 percent of our future,” Mr. Augustus said. “Everything we can do now to improve their lives will improve our community.
“By bringing together city government, public schools, social service agencies, doctors’ offices and families, we have been able to impact the lives of thousands of young people, and that’s something to be proud of.”
Erin Dobson, principal of Tatnuck Magnet School, said rethinking the city’s commitment to early literacy has been a team effort.
She said providing all students and young citizens with access and opportunity to books and literacy programming has been the main purpose of the Worcester Public Library’s “One City One Library” project.