Florida Campaign

An alarming number of children – about 67 percent nationwide and more than 80 percent of those from low-income families – are not proficient readers by the end of third grade. This has significant and long-term consequences not only for each of those children, but for their communities and our nation as a whole. If left unchecked, this problem will undermine efforts to end intergenerational poverty, close the achievement gap and reduce high school dropout rates. Far fewer of the next generation will be prepared to succeed in a global economy, participate in higher education or enter military and civilian service.

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading was launched to reverse this potentially catastrophic trend by supporting common-sense solutions at the federal, state and local levels. In communities nationwide, the Campaign works within three solution areas proven to move the needle on third grade reading proficiency:

The Campaign also recognizes the influence of health and parents on the success of these solution areas.

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, 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 a life of active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on an important predictor of school success and high school graduation: grade-level reading by the end of third grade.

Research shows that proficiency in reading by the end of third grade enables students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn and to master the more complex subject matter they encounter in the fourth grade curriculum. Most students who fail to reach this critical milestone falter in the later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma. Yet two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders are not proficient readers, according to national reading assessment data. This disturbing statistic is made even worse by the fact that more than four out of every five low-income students miss this critical milestone.

Although schools must be accountable for helping all children achieve, providing effective teaching for all children in every classroom every day, the Campaign is based on the belief that schools cannot succeed alone. Engaged communities mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities and assist parents in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities to serve as full partners in the success of their children are needed to assure student success. View this infographic to learn more about the Campaign’s approach to building a movement around early-childhood literacy.

About the Florida Grade-Level Reading Campaign

The Florida Children’s Council serves as Florida’s state network lead for the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. In the fall of 2013, the Council was approached to serve alongside 14 other states in an effort to elevate local grade-level reading campaigns from across the nation.

As the lead organization, the Council works closely with experts from the national office on ways to support local efforts and strategies to expand the work. The national goal by 2020 is to have a dozen or more states increase by at least 100% the number of low-income children reading proficiently at the end of 3rd grade. The Council is on target to assist Florida in becoming one of these states.

Through generous funding (2015-2017) provided by the Helios Education Foundation the Florida Grade-Level Reading Campaign (FGLRC) is now focusing on creating infrastructure to sustain grade-level reading efforts statewide by developing four networks anchored in the tenets of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading:

1) Network of Community Leaders – a learning community to share best practices, focus on outcomes and align efforts. The work and associated outcomes will be used as demonstration efforts of what can and should be accomplished statewide.

2) Early Learning Policy Thought Leaders – working from analysis on current state investments, child development research, proven system development strategies and community efforts, early childhood experts will develop a platform for systemic change that is focused on improved child and family outcomes.

3) Florida Business Leaders Alliance – in partnership with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the business sector will work to increase the prominence, funding and understanding of critical early childhood initiatives.

By anchoring this work in the grade-level reading framework, we are organizing existing efforts and expanding the work to improve coordination and alignment to make significant progress on grade-level reading outcomes for children. Although each Florida grade-level reading community is as unique as the community it serves, the shared vision for all of Florida’s children to read proficiently by third grade is the priority for all.  

About Helios Education Foundation 


Helios Education Foundation is focused on creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to succeed in postsecondary education by advancing the academic preparedness of all students and fostering a high-expectation, college-going culture.  

Through a decade of strategic partnership and investment, Helios has identified Early Grade Success, College and Career Readiness and Postsecondary Completion as the three most critical reform priorities in achieving our long-term goal. As an engaged foundation, embedded in communities across both states, the Foundation is contributing its expertise and financial resources to better prepare students for college and careers – ready to compete successfully in a global economy. Since 2006, Helios has invested over $167 million in education-related programs and initiatives in Arizona and Florida. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.helios.org.


Local Grade-Level Reading Communities


Local Florida campaigns are established in Alachua County, Brevard County, Broward County, Charlotte County, City of Delray Beach, Desoto County, Hillsborough County, Indian River County, Duval County, Manatee County, Martin County, Miami-Dade County, Orange County, Palm Beach County, Pinellas County, Sarasota County and St. Lucie County.

Through the collective impact of the national campaign, local campaigns, state agency leaders, business leaders, and funders, our statewide movement will help promote school readiness, combat chronic absenteeism, improve summer learning and engage parents as their children’s first teachers.

For more information on local campaign efforts, please contact our local grade-level reading campaign lead-agency contacts.

Alachua County United Way Mona Gil de Gibaja

(352) 333-0845


Brevard County United Way Kevin James

(321) 615-3384


Broward County Children’s Services Council of Broward County Sandra Bernard-Bastien

(954) 377-1666


Charlotte County United Way of Charlotte County Angie Matthiessen

(941) 627-3539


DeSoto County United Way Suncoast Sue Wetzel

(941) 328-6972


Indian River County The Learning Alliance Marie O’Brien

(877) 548-7323


City of Delray Beach City of Delray Beach Janet Meeks

(561) 243-7231


Hillsborough United Way Suncoast Ellen Zinzeleta

(813) 274-0938


Indian River County The Learning Alliance Jennifer Croom

(772) 321-8987


Duval County Kids Hope Alliance Dr. Jennifer Blalock

(904) 255-4404


Manatee County United Way Suncoast Bronwyn Beightol

(941) 932-8257


Martin County Children’s Services Council of Martin County Laura Haase

772-288-5758, Ext. 101


Miami-Dade County The Children’s Trust Danielle Barreras

(786) 693-0784


Orange County/Orange County Early Learning Coalition of Orange County Cindy Jurie

(407) 841-6607


Palm Beach County Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County Christy Potter

(561) 374-7608


Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County Danielle Hintz

(727) 453- 5696


Sarasota County Community Foundation of Sarasota County Kirsten Russell

(941) 556-7158


St. Lucie County Children’s Services Council of St. Lucie County John Cesar

(772) 444-6224


Suncoast Region (Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte & Desoto) The Patterson Foundation Beth Duda

(941) 952-1413


Florida Statewide Campaign, Florida Children’s Council Tallahassee Grade-Level Reading Campaign Jenn Faber

(239) 432-0051


Back to Top