WORCESTER, MA – Worcester has been named a finalists for the 2017 All-American City Award. Worcester has already been honored as a Pacesetter community by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which is awarding the All-American Award this year. Twenty-seven communities across the country are competing as finalists this year. Ten awards are typically given at the annual All-American City convention.
The focus of the 2017 All-American City Award is on early childhood education and literacy. Worcester has been recognized as a finalist community for its ongoing efforts to improve gradelevel reading, expand summer learning, reducing health barriers that impact attendance and expanding access to early childhood education.
“Children make up 20 percent of our population, but 100 percent of our future. Everything we do now to improve their lives will improve our community for generations to come,” said Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “I’m so honored that Worcester has been recognized as a leader in this area. 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.”
“Worcester has always been an All-American City,” said Patrick Lowe of Leadership Worcester and the community lead on the 2017 application. “We’ve won this award five times in the past, but this year’s award is special. We brought together a tremendous team from the community – young leaders, teachers, funders, early childhood educators – to rally around this award and celebrate the tremendous programs in our City focused on improving early education.”
“Worcester is on the move. We are seeing the momentum across the city. Even more exciting is that we are changing the trajectory for our youngest citizens. All-American finalist designation and the Pacesetter Award recognize our strategic collaboration to address key issues that can impede a child’s success,” said Kim Davenport, Co-Chair of Worcester Reads and Managing Director at Edward Street. “We are making progress and need to deepen our efforts to mobilize the entire community to support children and families, and finally close the achievement gap. Children are, after all, the heart of our Commonwealth.”
“Rethinking our city’s commitment to early literacy has been a team effort,” according to Erin Dobson, principal at Tatnuck Magnet School. Tatnuck Magnet houses one of the neighborhood library branches of the Worcester Public Library’s One City One Library initiative. “Providing all students and young citizens with access and opportunity to books and literacy programming has been the main purpose of the One City One Library project. Literacy doors of opportunity have been opened for students and teachers who live in the general vicinity of Tatnuck and for community members in all four corners of the city who access our branch or one of the 3 other children’s branches in the public school setting.”
Members of the 2016 Leadership Worcester program led the effort to bring the Worcester education community together to apply for this year’s All-American City Award. The application process included a community meeting with over 40 attendees from organizations such as: Worcester Public Schools, Worcester Public Library, United Way of Central Massachusetts, Family Services of Central Massachusetts, Worcester Education Collaborative, Worcester Family Partnership, Worcester Community Action Council, Head Start, UMass Memorial Medical Center, Reach Out and Read, Worcester Reads, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Worcester Regional Research Bureau and Greater Worcester Community Foundation.
Patrick Lowe of Leadership Worcester and Kim Davenport of Worcester Reads and Edward Street Child Services prepared the application. All-American City Award winners will be announced in Denver, CO in June, 2017. Worcester is a five-time All-American City having last won the award in 2000.