The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands has been acknowledged as a 2013 Pacesetter by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for its efforts to promote early reading in the Virgin Islands, according to Government House.
"I wish to congratulate the Board of Directors and the staff of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands for this national honor," Gov. John deJongh Jr. said in a statement.
DeJongh said his administration has promoted improved standards and enhanced initiatives for early childhood education. "The Community Foundation has been a partner in many of these activities and I am delighted that the organization is being recognized for its excellent early childhood programs, mainly through The Family Connection. Representatives of the foundation have been active with the Early Childhood Advisory Committee of the Governor’s Children and Families Council and supported the Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge, programs designed to assist our youngest citizens with learning," deJongh said.
The Campaign for Grade Level Reading describes itself as a national collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. On its website the campaign says it focuses on the most important predictor of school success and high school graduation – grade-level reading by the end of third grade.
Two states and 37 communities are included on its 2013 Pacesetters list, "an honor that recognizes their efforts to mobilize civic, business and community leaders to work with schools, libraries and other organizations toward the goal of improving early learning," according to the media release issued by the campaign. Nationwide 140 communities are participating in the program.
Some of the Community Foundation’s efforts in promoting early literacy include a lending library of children’s books and education materials, special activities to promote language and healthy development, and training for parents and professionals about the importance of talking, reading and engaging children in learning experiences.
According to Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the Community Foundation "is setting the pace and providing a model for communities across the nation which are seeking to give more children from low-income families a chance at a brighter future."