Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainable Development

Short Enterprises Authors Literacy Plan for City of Syracuse

June 29, 2013 at 2:47 PM


COMMISSIONED BY Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County




2012 All­‐America City GradeLevel Reading Award Application 


The City of Syracuse is located at the geographic heart of New York State and serves as the seat for Onondaga County. The area functions as a major crossroads for the Upstate region. Located on the Erie Canal, later within a significant railway  network,  and now at the intersection  of the New York State Thruway and Interstate 81, Syracuse has been a hub of commerce for nearly two centuries. 

Syracuse, like many Northern “Rust Belt” cities, experienced  significant population declines in the last half century. The city’s population peaked in 1950 at 220,000 but declined in the following decades as residents relocated to newly developed suburbs. In 1950, the City of Syracuse made up 65% of the total County population. By 2010, it made up only 31% of the total County population. The City, which was once the 12th largest in the country, has fallen to 167th with a population of 145,170.

Suburban sprawl, and the resulting disinvestment in the city’s urban core, has created a lasting legacy of residential  segregation  by  race  and  a  concentration  of  poverty  in  much  of  the  city.    For  example, Syracuse has a poverty rate at least three times that of surrounding towns and villages. While many city residents have retreated to the suburbs, economically  challenged populations remain concentrated  in the urban core. 

This can be seen in the jaw dropping 80% of students at the Syracuse City School District (SCSD) that live in poverty, which is three times the rate of all Syracuse families (25.1%) and eight times the New York (10.5%) and US (9.9%) rates.1 Furthermore, among the nation’s 200 biggest cities, only five have higher estimated poverty rates than Syracuse. 

The Syracuse community  also faces the resettlement  of the highest per capita number of refugees in New York State. At present, there are approximately 7,591 refugees residing in the Syracuse area – with 90% of that total living within the City limits. These groups have grown to account for nearly 6% of the City’s total population and consist of Sudanese and Bhutanese families, for example, many of whom are not literate in English. Furthermore,  some refugees are not only non-­‐English  speakers or readers, but they also are not literate in their native language, which can make learning to read English all the more difficult.  

Such circumstances  present a complex array of challenges for SCSD, where only half of those entering kindergarten are assessed as being “prepared” with regard to pre-­‐literacy skills. By 3rd and 4th grade, less than 40% of SCSD students are reading on grade level. Student attendance is an ongoing challenge and the High School graduation rate was only 45.9% in 2010. All of these challenges can especially be seen in students who are economically challenged and even more so in refugee populations where illiteracy is most pernicious. This is highlighted in the fact that only 5% of ESL students in 4th grade are reading on level. Many students enter school unprepared and quickly fall behind as the process of learning to read transitions to reading to learn.

Our  Syracuse  Community  Solutions  Action  Plan  (CSAP)  vision  is  to  build  sustainable  programs  and services that will address these challenges and support children and families in Syracuse from cradle to career. This will be accomplished by:

  1. Building the capacity of and actively coordinating grassroots organizations representing community residents;
  2. Identifying current service gaps and developing new programs or new collaborations among existing programs to fill those gaps;
  3. Improving the quality of work already being done by community agencies and strengthening
  4. partnerships between them;
  5. Providing children and families seamless accessibility to effective and efficient programs and services; and
  6. Institutionalizing best practices through rigorous evaluation and data collection with the intent to scale up a sustainable cradle-­‐to-­‐career continuum.

In 2007, over 200 community  members met in extensive planning sessions to establish a community-­‐ wide literacy plan with a focus on specific community literacy outcome indicators and priority recommendations.  This community  literacy  plan was established  in consultation  with the founder  of Literacy Powerline and was the culmination of a major investment since 2003 by the Central New York Community  Foundation  when it dedicated  over $1.8  million  toward  achieving  a community  vision  of 100% literacy and full community engagement. In the years since it has set up a Community literacy fund with over $500,000 in assets and growing to support community literacy in perpetuity.

Based  upon  that  plan,  the  newly  created  Literacy  Coalition  of  Onondaga  County  (LCOC)  hired  an Executive Director and began to develop action teams, baseline measures, targets and collaborative strategies. Most notably, we now have a strong and diverse cross section of community members, collaborators,  and managing  partners  actively  engaged  in a Leadership  Council  and directing  “action teams” focused on early childhood and adult education.2  At the core of our community literacy planning process are goals and community literacy outcome indicators, which have now been benchmarked since 2010.

Efforts to date have drawn from models of mutually beneficial partnerships, reciprocal relationships, leveraged resources, and landmark initiatives with Say Yes to Education and Syracuse University. Considerable  steps  have  been  taken  to  facilitate  access  to  comprehensive  literacy  and  community services for individuals and families as they cycle in and out of poverty.

The leadership of Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor and the backing of our elected leaders and business community is transforming the way we support our preK-­‐12 students, creating a pathway for their success and a pipeline for tomorrow's workforce. In addition, the School Board and Syracuse community have charged newly hired Superintendent Sharon Contreras with improving student achievement and making the school district’s systems more effective and efficient.

The region  is in the midst of pioneering  a new mode of community  institutional  transformation  that places  literacy  at  the  heart  of  networking  relationships  and  in  solving  an  array  of  socio-­‐economic problems perpetuating illiteracy and generational poverty, which ultimately serve as the backdrop for educational underachievement.

Literacy is also at the heart of an exciting and comprehensive  economic revitalization  underway in the City’s Near Westside neighborhood, which has seen over $200 million of new development projects in the last year. Construction to transform an empty warehouse on the edge of downtown in one of our poorest neighborhoods is currently underway on a state-­‐of-­‐the-­‐art Broadcast and Education Center for WCNY public broadcast station and a new home for ProLiteracy – the largest international organization of its kind  – that  will be known  as the  Ruth  J. Colvin  Center  for Innovation  and Excellence  in Adult Literacy.



As a landmark  of cultural  heritage  and a symbol  for our future,  the Erie Canal is particularly  salient. Opening  in 1825  it was the central  infrastructure  that ran through  the core of Syracuse  and fed our economic growth and prosperity.   Today, the canal is a symbol of the pipeline to success that we are building for our children. 

Our “literacy canal” is characterized  by three main segments of our grade level reading infrastructure that span the life course: early childhood, school age and adulthood. Just as with the canal itself, this central  hub  is  meant  to  provide   order,  direction   and  continuity   to  the  impressive   flow  of  our community’s  high  quality  literacy  efforts.  Each  of  our  partner  organizations  have  a  place  within  the broader community strategy. We’re assuring measureable outcomes and an improved flow of services by    aligning    our    efforts,

connecting, sharing resources, finding ways to collaborate    more efficiently, communicating regularly, and including the schools. We also provide cross-­‐generational support by engaging, involving and supporting parents.

Similar  to  the  original  canal  system,  our  literacy  canal  involves  a  series  of  locks  at  various  stages. However, rather than being used to raise canal boats to a higher water level, our locks occur at critical junctures when our youth must demonstrate that their literacy skills have risen to the next level that is needed if they are to successfully meet the challenges that await them further down the canal. We will do that through efforts focusing on daily reading to young children, strategies that focus on improving school attendance, and rich summer learning programs.

At present, our literacy canal represents both a commitment and a challenge. Approximately half of all students enter kindergarten unprepared. This has a ripple effect down the canal such that, later on, approximately half of our children are not reading on grade level by 3rd  and 4th  grades, through to high school where approximately half of our young adults fail to graduate. Furthermore, of those that go on to study at our local community college, approximately half must take developmental education courses before they can begin their college coursework.

A shocking number of students are entering kindergarten unprepared in the City of Syracuse. According to the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Literacy (DIBELS), which the district administers to assess the acquisition of early literacy skills, only 50% of students scored at a level indicative of kindergarten preparedness.

Particularly alarming is scoring among ESL students, who are by far the least prepared in terms of early literacy skills. In 2011, only 31%  of  ESL  students  scored  at  levels indicative of preparedness for kindergarten. However,  significant  progress  has  been made in the last five years. In 2005, a jaw dropping 0% of ESL students scored at levels indicative of preparedness for kindergarten.

Grade level reading also presents an enormous challenge for the city school district.  In 2010, only 38% of 3rd graders could read on grade level according to New York State’s English Language Arts (ELA) Exam. Only 27% of economically  disadvantaged  3rd  graders could read on level. Those students with limited English proficiency scored the worst with a meager 11% reading on grade level.

SCSD 4th graders also performed poorly  on the ELA with only 34% of  students  reading  on  grade level. Again, economically disadvantaged students generally scored lower than the general population with only 24% reading on  grade  level. Students with limited English proficiency again scored the worst with only 5% reading on grade level.

 4th grade ELA scores at SCSD (50%) also fall well below county (77%) and state (83%) averages. subgroup gap analysis of NYS ELA and math assessment results for grades 3-­‐8 indicate that these gaps persist throughout  their academic years. Furthermore,  of the 1,571 students that entered 9th grade in 2006, 27% dropped out by 2009-­‐2010.

SCSD currently has a graduation rate of 52%, which is comparable to other  major  upstate  cities such as Rochester (52%) and Buffalo (53%) but falls below the state average of 74%. 

Striking  are the  variations  in graduation  rate  between  different  race/ethnicity  groups.  While  59%  of white students in the district graduate, only 49% of African American students and 36% of Hispanic or Latino students graduate.

As a community we cannot allow half of our children to fail. Instead we must pay better attention to the behaviors  and  life  circumstances  that  precede  being  unready  for  kindergarten,  reading  below  grade level and failing to graduate.   Primary  among these are lack of books in the home and parents’  own reading deficits, learning instead of receiving, poor attendance in school, a 10 week learning gap during the summer and not having a reachable goal to look forward to after graduation.

The  first  area  where  growth  is  essential  is  early  reading.  A  recent  study  conducted  by  the  Literacy Coalition  of Onondaga  County  estimated  that the typical  child  living  in our city  has a less than  20% chance of being read to on a daily basis by a parent or other adult. The rate fell even further for children who are African American or non-­‐U.S. born.

However, the good news is that a strategy for increasing the number of books in the home, enrollment in a monthly book distribution program, Dolly Parton Imagination Library, greatly increased the chances of daily reading  at a statistically  significant  level. This strategy,  in its 3rd  year in two city zip codes is showing  results. Taking that to scale citywide is the next step.  If behavior continues as predicted   in  the  sample taken, daily reading would be extremely likely after just 30 plus months in the program.

A second major area in need of  attention  is  chronic absence, which is an ongoing concern for SCSD. Annual attendance rates regularly fall below what other districts in the region experience. SCSD’s attendance  rate  also  falls  below  the  NYS  average  (93%).  While  SCSD’s  overall  attendance  rate  has remained consistent at 92% over the past few years, this belies the existence of chronic absences among a smaller subset of the student body.

When we seriously examine attendance on a student-­‐by-­‐student basis, it reveals that we have a steadily increasing percentage of students with chronic absentee problems across all grade levels leading up to 5th grade. This problem deserves our full attention if students are to make use of the literacy canal that we are building.

Efforts are focusing on SCSD’s Attendance Policy, which outlines an expectation that each school have an Attendance Team in place to monitor and take active measures around chronic absenteeism, truancy and  tardiness.  These  teams  are  often  comprised  of  an  administrator,  social  worker,  school  nurse, teacher and other CBO or support staff. The attendance teams also coordinate recognition efforts to reinforce good/improved attendance. Additionally, 2 District Attendance Assistants are responsible for meeting with Attendance Teams at Elementary schools to review chronic absences, make home visits, and assist the school based teams to obtain information, connect with families, and convince students and families to return to school.

In addition, the Coordinator of Pupil Services has been meeting with the Onondaga County Department of Social Services FAR (Family Assessment Response) the arm of CPS (Child Protective Service) regarding Educational Neglect, for the past few months for Cross Systems exchanges.    Together, they created a working team (social workers, attendance team, and Child protective workers) and a protocol to ensure a systematic intervention prior to calling CPS.

Summer  Learning is another  major  area  our Plan will focus on. A recent analysis of literacy test scores revealed  a substantial drop in literacy rated skills between outgoing kindergarteners and incoming first graders. This is a well-­‐documented phenomenon known as the summer learning deficit and it’s a crucial area that we must study if our children are to keep pace with children growing up in a global economy.

Programs  well linked to the instructional  year program  include ones offered by partner organizations such  as Say Yes, Onondaga  County  Public  Library  (OCPL),  SU Literacy  Corps  and several  United  Way funded efforts. All are targeted at reading and math skill retention, combined with meals and summer enrichment of sports and the arts thus providing an ongoing community learning cycle.

In a cradle to career community strategy we will prepare students to pursue post secondary education. If our neediest children do not see a light at the end of the tunnel, they will not have the incentive to strive to be their best. Post Secondary education is something that we as a community value and Say Yes offers  a  ticket  in  the  door  for  high  school  graduates  who  want  to  pursue  additional  education  and training for their career. Hillside Work Connections and On Point for College are efforts that also point in this direction.  Greater coordination and better sharing of detail of effort will assist the community Plan to be cost effective and targeted.


Our vision for the Syracuse CSAP is to build sustainable programs and services that will support children and families in Syracuse from cradle to career. This will be accomplished by:

  1. Building the capacity of and actively coordinating grassroots organizations representing community residents;
  2. Identifying current service gaps and developing new programs or new collaborations among existing programs to fill those gaps;
  3. Improving the quality of work already being done by community agencies and strengthening partnerships between them;
  4. Providing children and families with seamless transitions among and increased accessibility to effective and efficient programs and services; and
  5. Institutionalizing best practices through rigorous evaluation and data collection with the intent to scale up a sustainable cradle-­‐to-­‐career continuum.

In Onondaga County, over 200 community members met in extensive planning sessions to establish a community-­‐wide  literacy  plan  with  a  focus  on  specific  community  literacy  outcome  indicators  and priority  recommendations.  Based  upon  that  plan,  the LCOC  hired  an Executive  Director  in 2008  and began to develop action teams, baselines measures, targets and collaborative strategies.

We now have a strong and diverse cross section of community members, collaborators, and managing partners  actively  engaged  in a Leadership  Council  and  directing  “action  teams”  focused  on measurement, early childhood and adult education.

The  following  goals  and  community  literacy  indicators  are  at  the  core  of  our  community  literacy planning process.

  1.  Increased number of incoming kindergarteners prepared for school.
  2. Increased number of K-­‐12 students meeting proficiency standards on the NYS English and
  3. Language Arts (ELA) assessment.
  4. Increased high school graduation rates.
  5. Increased number of adult learners who make educational gain. (5)  Increased number of children who read or are read to daily.
  6. Increased number of literacy and community programs using instructional practices based on scientifically based research.
  7. Increased funding and community support for literacy-­‐related programs and services. 
  8. Increased number of adult learners entering or retaining employment.

Our current plan also draws from the work of the White House Council for Community Solutions, which recently  identified  model  communities  and  best  practices.  Inspired  by  this  work,  our  CSAP  planning process embraces these same principles, which mirror our own community planning process:

  1. Commitment to long-­‐term involvement: Successful collaborations make multi­‐year commitments because long‐term change takes time. Even after meeting goals, a collaborative must work to sustain them.
  2. Involvement of key stakeholders across sectors: All relevant partners play a role, including decision­‐makers from government, philanthropy, business and non­‐profits, as well as individuals and families.  Funders need to be at the table from the beginning to help develop goals and vision and, over time, align their funding with collaborative strategies.
  3. Use of shared data to set agenda and improve over time: Data is central to collaborative work and is the guiding statement for collaborative decision-­‐making.
  4. Engagement of community members as substantive partners:  Community members maintain involvement in shaping services, offering perspectives and providing services to each other – not just as focus group participants.


 2012  – 2013  :: Convene  the Leadership  Stakeholder  committee  to further  develop  the AAC Syracuse CSAP, fully engage with the SCSD and Say Yes, set an aggressive but achievable % improvement goals for school  readiness,  student  attendance  and  third  grade  reading,  begin  a  unified  marketing  campaign, share baseline with the community, share the goal with the community, establish a method from best practices for community engagement in the Solution; begin study of financial resources for each action area – the flexibility  and the impediments  to aligning those resources;  use the community  geography project to demonstrate neighborhood areas of need and current and desired location of resources.

2013 – 2020 :: Hold the first Annual Syracuse Grade-­‐Level Reading Campaign Forum on research about school readiness, student attendance, summer learning, and  reading on level by third grade; update the community  on  most  recent  local  data  and  baseline.  Pledge  to  annual  %  improvement  goals,  share successes,  lessons  learned  and  challenges  and  promising  local  practices  at  each  level.  Host  an  AAC Syracuse  Forum  annually.    Engage  business  with  our Syracuse  CSAP  stakeholders.    Raise  awareness, share the data, celebrate success, engage community regarding challenges, update on all resources to the solution, and involve children and parents.



Engaging  the  scholarly  work  of  the  Community  Benchmarking  Program  at  SU’s  Maxwell  School,  the report “Laying the Foundation for Literacy” was conducted for the Coalition and focused on eight Community Literacy Outcome Indicators that cover the lifespan from early childhood to adult education and provides the framework that allows us to measure progress.

A number of research studies have made a compelling case for early education as a critical public investment.  Early literacy, specifically, has proven to be a reliable indicator of a child’s future success in school.  Consequently, this has focused the Coalition on our community literacy outcome indicators #1: Improving the number of incoming kindergarteners prepared for school and #5: Increased number of children who read or are read to daily.

With a focus on the importance  of regular reading to children as a means to develop skills needed to enter kindergarten ready to learn, the Coalition’s efforts also seek to fully involve the parents -­‐   a child's first and most important teacher.  This strategy presented an extraordinary opportunity for the Coalition to target both children from birth to five years old and their parents.

As the centerpiece of a broader community literacy plan that is targeted and measurable, Imagination Library  was  launched  as  a program  that  not  only  provides  books  to  children  but  also  established  a central data system through which collaborating partners will strategize and mark their progress toward shared outcomes together.   With unparalleled  frequency and duration, a new age-­‐appropriate book is sent monthly to enrolled children 5 and under in the initial zip code target areas of 13203 and 13208 in the Syracuse City School District's North Literacy Zone, with plans to add zip code 13204 from the West Side  Literacy  Zone  as  funds  permit.  In  addition  to  the  Dollywood  Foundation,  our  project  partners include  the Central  New York Community  Foundation,  United  Way’s  Success  By 6, Clear Channel,  Le Moyne College, St. Joseph's Hospital and a growing list of organizations and agencies to register kids into the program. 

Given the concentration of poverty in the City of Syracuse, the Coalition’s decision to focus on early childhood/family  literacy provides a pipeline to “Say Yes to Education” a national, non-­‐profit education foundation  committed  to  dramatically  increasing  high  school  and  college  graduation  rates  for  our nation's urban youth.  In essence, the Coalition “bookends” the K-­‐12 focus of Say Yes’s efforts in the City of Syracuse by such a parent-­‐child strategy.

Working closely with Syracuse University, Le Moyne College, Onondaga Community College, Onondaga Cortland Madison BOCES, Syracuse City School District, and the American Institutes for Research -­‐  our intention is to fully measure our progress and report back to the community.  Early results have already been promising.

The   Coalition   was   recently   awarded   a  $20,000   research   grant   from   the   Sociological   Initiatives Foundation. Under the direction of Drs. Sunita Singh, Monica Sylvia, and Frank Ridzi, co-­‐authors and principle investigators, this funding will expand our Measurement Action Team's research on the impact of our local Imagination Library Program.

In an effort to further enhance the impact of Imagination  Library in our target area, the Coalition has also recently awarded $100,000 in family literacy programming over the last two years with the support of  the  Central  New  York  Community  Foundation.    One  example  of  this  can  be  seen  in  the  Literacy Volunteers  of Greater  Syracuse  teaming  up with  the North  Side  Learning  Center  to secure  a $9,000 grant.  The  money  will  be  used  to  help  refugee  parents  read  the  Imagination  Library  books  to  their children.  Another grant of $9,000 enabled InterFaith Works of CNY to develop programming with newly arriving Burmese refugee parents and their children at White Branch Library.   Such targeted strategies are critical for making a measurable difference in school readiness. These efforts would not be possible without the on-­‐going support and guidance of some of our major early childhood partners:

  • Child Care Solutions, the Child Care Resource & Referral organization serving Onondaga County, works to ensure that parents, programs, providers and policy makers have the information and resources  they  need  to  support  early  learning  and  the  healthy  development  and  care  of all children. As a primary training resource for local childcare providers, Child Care Solutions has focused on improving support for children's early literacy development in childcare centers and family childcare homes in the county. Onondaga County is a FIELD test site for QUALITYstarsNY, New York State's newly developed early childhood Quality Rating & Improvement System, which is  being  overseen  by  the  Early  Childhood  Advisory  Council  (ECAC),  which  provides  strategic direction and advice to the State of New York on early childhood issues.
  • Childrens Consortium: The  Children’s  Consortium,  incorporated  in  1973,  provides  programs and  services  that  empower  families  to  reach  their  full  potential.     As  Central  New  York’s parenting   resource,   the  agency  provides   diverse  and  direct  services   to  improve  literacy, parenting  skills, adult education, early childhood  education and professional  development. In 2010, services expanded to include NYS PIRC (Parental Information Resource Centers) focusing on family engagement and collaboration with the Syracuse City School District.
  • Clear Channel Radio: Clear Channel Syracuse does not view itself as just another cluster of radio stations; they are a valuable community partner – especially to educational and literacy organizations. They have harnessed the powerful resources at their disposal to address critical issues such as: kindergarten readiness, high school graduation rates, and absenteeism within schools,  literacy,  and  more  –  especially  within  lower  socio-­‐economic  communities.       Clear Channel Syracuse has partnered with dozens of local organizations committed to improving the educational experience for children and young adults.
  • Head Start (P.E.A.C.E., Inc.): Syracuse, NY has the distinction of being one of the four research sites that formed the basis for today’s federal Head Start program.  A unique and new feature of their early childhood education model was parental involvement. Locally, P.E.A.C.E., Inc. has provided  Head  Start  to  low-­‐income  children  and  families  in  Onondaga  County  since  1968, serving 863 young children annually. In 1996, P.E.A.C.E., Inc. expanded its Head Start Program to provide services to pregnant women, infants and toddlers through the development of an Early Head Start Program and currently serves 214 pregnant women and children from birth to age three.
  • Onondaga County Health Department: Under their Healthy Families umbrella of services, the Nurse Family Partnership  (NFP), Community  Health Nurses (CHN) provide  intensive,  frequent, structured home visits, starting early in pregnancy and continuing until a baby's 2nd birthday, to low income, first time pregnant women who reside in Onondaga County.   NFP program strives to  improve  prenatal  and  perinatal  outcomes  in  all  mothers  and  infants  it  serves  by  the promotion  of  healthy  behaviors  (both  physical  and  mental),  through  health  education  and support, and enhancing parent-­‐life course development by empowerment.
  • United  Way  of  Central  New  York’s  Success  by  Six  (SB6):   Through  the  leadership  of  SB6, Onondaga  County  has  been  a  Touchpoints  community  since  2006. Since  its  founding,  the Brazelton Touchpoints Center® has brought Touchpoints principles and strategies to over 130 communities, in 32 states, the District of Columbia, and 8 American Indian Tribes. Brazelton Touchpoints has been embraced by tens of thousands of providers in early care and education, health care and early intervention, reaching more than one million families across the country. The Touchpoints training collaborative locally includes staff from the Onondaga County Health Department, Child Care Solutions, United Way Success by 6, Catholic Charities and SUNY Empire State College.


The School Board and Syracuse community had charged newly hired Superintendent  Sharon Contreras with  improving  student  achievement  and  making  the  school  district’s  systems  more  effective  and efficient. If she is to succeed in leading and achieving  this mission, Superintendent  Contreras  and the SCSD community must develop and implement strategic actions that are well informed.  This entry plan will guided the superintendent’s first 100 days as the new leader of the Syracuse City School District and enabled her to make informed short-­‐ and long-­‐term decisions that are reflective of the community’s priorities and expectations and in the best interest of Syracuse students. Superintendent Contreras met with  over  300  parents  and  attended  41  parent  chats  in  every  quadrant  of  the  city.  She  attended community meetings engaging 1,700 representatives from the community including the faith based community, higher education, elected and appointed officials and philanthropic leaders.

Expected Outcomes:

It  is  anticipated  that  the  implementation  of  the  SCSD’s  plan  will  result  in  the  following  outcomes, thereby enabling the Superintendent to make informed decisions and recommendations:

  1. A comprehensive summary of the feedback obtained from the stakeholders engaged during the “listening and learning” activities set forth in this entry plan.
  2. Summarized and detailed findings from all audits, reviews and evaluations of the district’s organizational structure, programs, processes, systems and finances.
  3. Assessment of executive leadership and organizational structure and identification of any design/staffing changes needed to ensure optimal productivity, efficacy and efficiency.
  4. A unified community committed to working together to do what is best for Syracuse’s students.

The framework for  the   SCSD’s   comprehensive   strategic   planning   process   to   improve   student achievement to be developed in the 2011‐2012 school year and implemented in the 2012-2013 school year, will include a shared vision and mission, goals and priorities, and targeted outcomes and metrics. In particular, the SCSD is fully cooperating and providing requested data for our efforts as well.

Complimentary Community Efforts:

  • A current  WCNY  initiative,  Yes  to  Success,  part  of the  national  American  Graduate  program focused on improving the graduation rates in America’s high schools, has involved middle-­‐school and high school students working with WCNY to produce video pieces for both broadcast and online use, that are messages, and even a special pledge, directed at their peers to encourage them to stay in school.   These messages,  including  a half-­‐hour  program  on the subject,  have been complimented by career-­‐oriented programming that brought area residents working in a variety of interesting  jobs, directly into the classroom  to encourage students to stay in school and work to achieve their dreams.   Working with WCNY, the following list is a sample of organizations  that  not  only  offer  services  to  students  but  also  ways  that  members  of  the community can become involved in helping students stay in school.
  • 100 Black Men of Syracuse, Inc.:  The 100 Black  Men of Syracuse, Inc. is committed to the intellectual development of youth and the economic empowerment of the African-­‐American community  based  upon  the  following  precepts:  Respect  for  Family,  Spirituality,  Justice  and Integrity. The  100  Black  Men  of Syracuse,  Inc.  seeks  to serve  as a beacon  of leadership  by utilizing  our  diverse  talents  to  create  an  environment  where  our  children  are  motivated  to achieve and to empower our people to become self‐sufficient shareholders in the economic and social fabric of the communities we serve.
  • Hillside Work‐Scholarship Connection: Hillside Work-­Scholarship Connection is a nationally recognized youth development program helping at-­risk youth stay in school and graduate from high  school  with  the  skills  and  confidence  necessary  to  enter  college  or the  workforce.    On average, Hillside Work-­‐Scholarship Connection students graduate high school at twice the rate of their peers and between 70 and 80 percent of these graduates attend college.
  • Liberty  Partnership  Programs  (LPP):  The  LPP is a joint effort between the NYS Dept. of Education, two and four year colleges and universities, local school districts, SAY YES and community organizations and businesses. Founded in 1988, the Onondaga Community College (OCC) Liberty Partnerships Program is one of 40 in NYS designed to help students graduate from high school and go on to post-­secondary education or meaningful employment.
  • OnPoint for College: For more than 10 years, OnPoint for College has helped over 2000 first- generation youth to get into college, stay there, and succeed afterwards. We help students find financial aid, fill out the forms, and get the resources to survive and succeed. We drive them to colleges, visit them to help them stay on track, and go to their graduations.


Syracuse, like many communities, has a number of extraordinary examples of summer programming but few can show collective data that confirm a significant and measurable community-­‐wide impact. Due to our work with this CSAP, individual program data and outcomes are now being received by the SCSD, Say Yes, SU Literacy Corps, OCPL and UW funded agencies that provide summer programming, such as Boys  &  Girls  Club,  Salvation  Army,  Catholic  Charities,  Huntington  Family  Center,  YWCA  and  the  Girl Scouts.

Ongoing Efforts & Community Partnerships:

  • Syracuse University's Mary Ann Shaw Center for Public and Community Service leads with field with the launch of SU's Literacy Corps (SULC) in 1997. SULC is a program developed in response to former President Clinton's "America Reads Challenge" that encouraged community members to  get  involved  with  mentoring  and  tutoring  young  children  to  improve  literacy.    SULC  was piloted in the summer of 1997, now sends more than 300 SU tutors into the community each year and provides nearly 40,000 hours of rich literacy support in various classrooms and after-­‐ school program settings.  Due to program success over the years, the SULC continued into the academic year as well as into the summer in partnership with SCSD and Say Yes.
  • Say Yes Summer Camp provides academic and enrichment opportunities, youth engagement activities, and leadership opportunities aimed to develop talents, learn new skills and unleash creativity in all children. Through hands-­‐on and one-­‐on-­‐one teaching and learning activities, we support  the  physical,  social  and  cognitive  growth  of  your  children  in  a  safe,  supportive  and nurturing environment. With 3500+ campers, Say Yes hired nearly 350 Enrichment Specialists in Summer 2011 to assist District teachers in the classroom. The Specialists are college students from all over the country, many of which are Say Yes scholars. They will lead activities in areas such as dance, swimming, music  lessons,  drama,  sports  and  recreation,  photography,   entrepreneurship,   culinary  and creative writing during the afternoon session of the summer camp program. Prior to the camp opening,  Enrichment  Specialists  engaged  in  a  week  of  training  in  the  Summer  Institute  at Syracuse University. They gained valuable knowledge from SU faculty, SCSD teachers and local education experts about community development, classroom engagement, project based lesson planning, child development, the role of culture in education empowerment and other program specific topics.
  • Mayor Miner's Summer 2011 All-­Stars Reading Challenge: The purpose of the reading challenge, launched by City of Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, was to encourage children and their  families  to  spend  time  reading  over  the  summer  and  to promote  reading  as a healthy habit.  The  Say  Yes  summer  students,  with  the  help  of  their  Say  Yes  counselors,  logged  the amount of time they spent each day reading. The OCPL partnered in this project to help each student  sign  up for a library  card  by providing  registration  forms  to be filled  out at Say Yes Summer Camp.  Winners were chosen based on the greatest amount of time reading within the duration of Say Yes Summer Camp.
  • Onondaga  County  Public  Library  (OCPL): The  OCPL,  consisting  of  a  Central  Library,  eight branches and two satellite libraries in the City of Syracuse, is deeply embedded in the lives of city residents and a major partner. Neighborhood  libraries have long been centers for literacy and community  activity.   They now also serve as sites where local agencies and organizations can  reach  underserved   populations   in  a  familiar  environment.   Further,   OCPL  engages  in outreach activities throughout the year at schools and community centers and events.

The  Joanie  M.  Mahoney  Literacy  Enhancement  Fund  was  created  by  the  Onondaga  County Public  Library  (OCPL)  to  help  support  local  literacy  efforts.  Excerpts  from  County  Executive Joanie Mahoney's State of the County Address in 2011 at Onondaga Community College:

"With my commitment to keeping a focus on literacy, I was pleased to learn that this year's State of the County address also happens to be "Read Across America Day." There are few activities more important than reading to a child and our literacy efforts are paying off. The Literacy Coalition is well established with 2 Literacy Zones, the Imagination Library is about to take off, and our partnership with Say Yes to Education will serve as the catalyst for increasing graduation rates and making it possible for more youth to attend college. As I have said so many times in so many ways, "If we invest in our children now, it will pay dividends long into the future."

The Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County sees its role in the Grade-­‐Level Reading Campaign much the same as the role it plays in moving forward the literacy interests of the community. This is well said by the Urban Institute which describes a literacy coalition as "A coalition is at once a distinct organization AND a collective of many organizations and stakeholders. It is both the lead organization AND its membership.  The  coalition’s  work  is  to  act  on  behalf  of  the  collective.  Primary  tasks  for  literacy coalitions are to facilitate change and track improvement in literacy in the community as a whole.

LCOC has made a commitment to support the efforts of Superintendent Contreras with a spirit of collaboration   and  partnership.   SCSD  has  already  attracted   national  attention   and  praise  for  the progressive implementation of the Say Yes to Education framework, which has brought the entire community together and committed itself to doing what is necessary to support our children.


Under the guidance of a new superintendent and through SCSD’s participation in New York State’s Race to the Top grant, the Syracuse City School District has embarked on an unprecedented effort to comprehensively  reform  teaching  and  learning  in  our  struggling  schools  to  ensure  that  all  students graduate college and are career ready without the need for remediation. Embracing core values of excellence,  accountability,  equity  and efficiency,  Superintendent  Contreras’s  vision is for the SCSD to become the most improved school district in America. Systemic reform efforts include implementation of the following: a comprehensive strategic planning process that will address findings of recently-­‐ completed  top-­‐to-­‐bottom  audits  of  all  district  functions  and  departments;  extensive  transformation plans to turn around seven persistently-­‐lowest achieving SCSD schools; a pay-­‐for-­‐performance model to recognize  and reward  effective  and highly  effective  teachers;  a new teacher  and principal  evaluation system based on multiple performance measures including student achievement and rigorous classroom observations;   data  driven  instruction;   and  revamped   curriculum   frameworks   aligned  to  the  new Common Core Standards and revised assessments.

There is a new Executive Director of Parent and Family Engagement that Say Yes to Education recently hired to work directly with SCSD schools to strengthen parent-­‐family engagement efforts. There is also the community-­‐wide mobilizing that has occurred and is ongoing to design and resubmit a Promise Neighborhood  application  and a Choice Neighborhoods  application.   If awarded  the AAC designation, the proposed CSAP framework would be an integral part of the continuum of services to be proposed.

In addition to the strategies  already described  above, we are building  and strengthening  connections with the following:

SAY YES SYRACUSE: There are two main aspects to the Say Yes to Education Syracuse initiative: school improvement and the Syracuse High Education Compact.

The school improvement aspect focuses on increasing the low quality of schools in the Syracuse  City  School  District  and  increasing  graduation  rates  and  overall  performance  and success. As part of this program, every student in a Syracuse City School District School receives diagnostic testing and ongoing monitoring to keep up with their progress and education. This information is given to their teachers who will adjust their studies or workload in line with their progress. Teachers will also create individual student growth plans to share with each student so they can be involved in their own improvement and education in some way. The largest aspect of the school improvement program is the after school and summer school programs being run to support those students who still struggle.

The  Syracuse  Higher  Education  Compact  is  the  second  part  of  the  Say  Yes  Syracuse initiative. 23 different private institutions have agreed to provide free tuition for students from the  district  applying  through  the  normal  application  process.  These  families  also  need  to  be below  $75,000  a  year  income  to  receive  the  full  financial  aid  package.  Families  with  over $75,000 a year will be offered $5,000 a year in grant money instead. Any student who has lived in Syracuse for three or more years and has completed 10th through 12th grade is eligible for this financial aid. 

FOCUS Greater Syracuse: “Forging Our Community’s United Strength,” F.O.C.U.S. is a community-­‐wide visioning program created with the goal of making Syracuse a better place to live and work.    What distinguishes F.O.C.U.S. from other visioning programs is that the ideas came from thousands of every day  folks,  the  citizens  of  Syracuse,  not  from  people  in  authority  positions.    Led  by  FOCUS  and  in collaboration  with  the  Syracuse  University  Literacy  Corps,  our  community  was  named  a  2001  All-­‐ America City Finalist.

SYRACUSE 20/20 Is a non-­‐partisan, not-­‐for-­‐profit coalition of Central New York business and community leaders,  created  to  advocate  on  issues  impacting  the  quality  of  life  in  Syracuse  and  the  region. SYRACUSE 20/20 is focused on best positioning Syracuse and the surrounding region to be competitive through innovative reform and targeted investment.  In particular, they believe that to be a great City requires that we have great City schools.   SYRACUSE 20/20 is committed to the long-­‐term strategies of school reform and is a supporter of Say Yes to Education.   20/20 has also been a strong advocate for equity in State education aid and greater accountability for educational outcomes. The Literacy Coalition Executive Director is proud to be an active board member of Syracuse 20/20.

SCSD Literacy Zones: The Syracuse City School District is proud to say that we are the only entity in the entire state to be the recipient of three Literacy Zone designations by the NYS Education Department. Literacy Zones are a reform initiative developed by the New York State Board of Regents and the State Education Department to close the achievement gap in urban and rural communities of concentrated poverty and high concentrations of families and individuals with limited literacy or English language proficiency. Literacy Zones are intended to provide a systemic focus on meeting the literacy needs of communities,  from  birth  through  adult.  Each  of  the  three  Literacy  Zones  in  Syracuse  (North,  West, South)  and  their  satellite  sites  provide  pathways  out  of  poverty  for  individuals  and  families,  in  the following areas:

  • •A continuum of literacy services from early childhood through adult, including strong support for parent involvement in their child’s literacy development at home and engagement with the school system.
  • •Assistance and support for at-­‐risk youth to enable them to complete high school and succeed in postsecondary education or advanced training;
  • •Postsecondary transition that enable out-­‐of-­‐school youth and adults to attain a high school equivalency diploma and succeed in postsecondary education.
  • • Programs that enable out-­‐of-­‐school youth and adults who are receiving public assistance, food stamps, or families with family incomes less than 200% of poverty to obtain and retain employment.
  • •Incarcerated transition for youth and adults returning to the community from incarceration.
  • •Pathways to citizenship and English language proficiency for limited English language adults.
  • •Workforce development programs, including apprenticeship, career and technical education, and career pathways.
  • •Support for mature workers and senior citizens to enable them to stay out of poverty
  • •Support for individuals with disabilities and their families.
  •  Transition support for returning veterans and their veterans, including disabled veterans.

SCSD Literacy Zones-­‐LEARNER WEB:  New York State was selected as one of eight states to receive grant support from the US Department  of Education to develop Postsecondary  Transition  models. The New York State model includes the three Syracuse Literacy Zones and utilized the Learner Web software as a unique way to support adult learners transitioning to postsecondary education or training.

SCSD  Educational  Foundation: Almost  ten  years  ago,  business  leaders,  community  members,  and educators formed the Syracuse City School District Educational Foundation in order to collaboratively support the educational experience of children within the city schools.  Recognizing the importance of literacy  to the success  of our students,  the theme of this year’s  grants  is “Kids Who Read Succeed.” Through  this program,  all grants  involve  increasing  the literacy  skills of students  while  developing  in them a love of reading.  Schools submitting grant applications were encouraged to research, create, and propose supplemental education programs that support and/or supplement existing District literacy curricula while providing new, creative experiences to students.

Alliance  of  Communities  Transforming  Syracuse  (ACTS):  The  largest  interfaith  grassroots  organizing alliance in Onondaga County.   Its primary focus is to serve parents of children 0-­‐4 years of age so that they will be equipped to be effectively engaged in their children’s educational development from birth by better preparing them to enter the public or private school system, and becoming their children’s advocates throughout the educational process.

SCSD-­‐Parent Partnership Network:  To improve achievement for all students, the mission of the Parent Partnership Network is to assist parents, community, and the Syracuse City School District to work in collaboration  in all aspects of the learning process, and establishing  networks among those who value the uniqueness and diversity of our families.

Parents for Public Schools (PPS) of Syracuse: A national organization of community-­‐based chapters working with public school parents and other supporters to improve and strengthen local public schools. We believe that quality public education is vital to our democracy and to America’s future.

Parent  Success  Initiative  (PSI):  A  Greater  Syracuse  Works  Employment  Support  Program  for  Non-­‐ Custodial Parents targeting non-­‐custodial parents in Onondaga County. The program’s innovative model has been recognized  locally and nationally.   Supported  by a recent US DOL fatherhood  grant, PSI has built a foundation of existing partnerships to create a neighborhood network of services and supports.

Reach  Out  and  Read  (ROR):   ROR  is  an  evidence-­‐based  nonprofit  organization  that  promotes  early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud.  Pediatricians and other clinicians are trained in the ROR model in an effort to promote pediatric literacy:   ROR serves over 4,000 children and their families in Onondaga County.

United  Way  of  Central  New  York:  The  Community  Program  Fund  is  United  Way’s  major  source  of funding to non-­‐profits in Central New York. The 2011-­‐2014 Community Program Fund takes a measured approach  to  community  change,  funding  programs  in  four  key  Focus  Areas:  Education  (Educating community members to achieve their full potential); Income (Promoting financial stability and economic self-­‐sufficiency); Health (Improve people's overall well-­‐being); and Safety Net (Providing support services to meet basic community needs).


In our years of coalition building as a community, we have learned that progress cannot be measured and celebrated unless we have an infrastructure of measurement. It has taken years to build one but we have   made   great   progress.   Our  infrastructure   in  general   includes   primary data  gatherers, data processors and data analyzers.

For our community to successfully collect baseline data, plan accordingly, and chart progress at each of our three levels of infrastructure must learn to work seamlessly together. Attaining this goal is the job of our community coalition’s Measurement  Action Team (MAT). This team, consists of representatives  of all of the local colleges and universities, SCSD, BOCES, nonprofits and the for profit sector. Together the MAT has orchestrated a sustained community interest in collecting and sharing data that itself has both fostered a relationship of data sharing and encouraged community partners to improve their own data collection.

The end result is a network such that school districts and other primary data gatherers routinely collect information and pass it off to processors who remove identifying characteristics (such as student names) and then share the data with analysis  teams who set community  goals and chart progress.  We have come a long way and continue to steadily improve.

  1.  is a unique website developed by many community partners and funded by the Central New York Community Foundation (Community Foundation). Its' development has been significant to both our community literacy planning efforts and this CSAP. Within Subject Areas users will find a robust set of data and indicators concerning Onondaga County and the region. This  dynamic  and  interactive  website  provides  a  central  clearinghouse  for  data  from  many sources, many of which were not previously available online. Indicator Teams made up of volunteers,  from  many  disciplines  across  the  region,  will  improve  and  update  indicators  at regular intervals.
  2. LCOC’s  Measurement  Action  Team  spearheads  research  projects  on  behalf  of  the  coalition. They’ve  successfully  navigated  the  Institutional  Review  Board  (IRB)  process.  Each  research project requires the IRB of a local institution (typically one of the colleges) to review our plans and ensure that all practices comply with ethical standards. We have found the IRB protocol to be  a  valuable  cornerstone  of  our  community  research  process  since  it  offers  structure  and oversight to our research projects. LCOC’s  Measurement  Action  Team  is  comprised  of  representatives  from  the  SCSD, Onondaga-­‐Cortland-­‐Madison Counties Board of Cooperative Educational Services (OCM BOCES), the Child Care Council, the community geographer, the Community Indicators Taskforce, the Community   Foundation, Syracuse University, LeMoyne College, Onondaga Community College, and two private businesses. This team develops the community  research  projects  for  the  LCOC  and  created  our  first  community-­‐wide literacy outcome dashboard.  The SCSD, in particular, is a major data holder as well.
  3. The Le Moyne College Center for Urban and Regional Applied Research (CURAR) provides an infrastructure   for  collaborative   research   that  serves  the  needs  of  the  Central  New  York Community.  CURAR Faculty Affiliates Sunita Singh (Education),  Monica Sylvia (Psychology)  and Frank Ridzi (Sociology) worked with the Community Foundation and members of the LCOC  to develop  and  evaluate  this  large-­‐scale  initiative  aimed  at  improving  the  school  readiness  of children  entering  kindergarten   at  SCSD  with  support  from  the  Dolly  Parton  Foundation's Imagination Library Program.7
  4. Syracuse University’s Community Benchmarks Program (CPB) at the Maxwell School conducted the study "Laying the Foundation for Literacy" in Fall 2009. The study involved the LCOC's eight Community Literacy Outcome Indicators that cover the lifespan from early childhood to adult education. In particular, their work directly assists the efforts of the LCOC’s Measurement Action Team to benchmark our outcomes indicators and to chart measurable progress over time. According  to Carol  Dwyer,  Director  of the Community  Benchmarks  Program  at SU's Maxwell School: "Our students in the Community  Benchmarks  practicum  were very committed  working on a project that can contribute to raising literacy rates in Onondaga County. They were especially  taken with the Coalition's  decision to join the Imagination  Library. They see this as a wonderful way to help the city's youth in the targeted areas to be prepared for school." The mission of the CBP is to support local governments and nonprofits through the use of comparative measures to improve performance and accountability as part of a continuous improvement effort.
  5. Syracuse   University   Community   Geography   Program   is   a   community   driven   university-­‐ community  collaboration  that  uses  GIS  mapping  and  spatial  analysis  to  provide  fresh  and insightful perspectives on social issues in the Greater Syracuse Area. A comprehensive mapping effort was undertaken in 2008 to identify the geographic proximity of literacy programs to those needing them. This work helped raise questions  and inform decisions  about seeking funds to better meet the Community Literacy Priorities.  A Literacy Provider Survey was also conducted with  over  100  organizations  and  schools  to  determine  what  level  of  literacy  services  they provide.
  6. The  American  Institutes  for  Research  (AIR)  has  been  retained  (and  also  agreed  to  provide partial pro bono support) to work with Say Yes and others to conduct a multi-­‐faceted evaluation in Syracuse. Their evaluation includes:
    • •Identify the individual strengths and weaknesses of each student and provide an individual student plan to guide that student’s school experience;
    • •Identify the strengths and weaknesses of each school and provide a school report to guide the programming implemented in that school;
    • •Tailor the Say Yes services to students’ and schools needs;
    • Review implementation data to continuously improve the program in the schools; and
    • •Evaluate the impact of Say Yes in Syracuse schools to contribute to the evidence base—and policy—on effective programs for at-­‐risk students.


Our evaluation plan includes a cycle of planning, taking action, observing, evaluating, and reflecting. Our planning began with our newly launched community indicators website ( This is a clearinghouse of local data contributed by community members ranging from school districts to local government and non-­‐for-­‐profit organizations. These data revealed the low literacy, graduation, and employment  rates upon which  our initial  plans for our literacy  canal were built.  In order  to address these issues, we have taken the actions described above, including launching the Imagination Library (IL) book distribution program in two zip codes that have a high concentration of refugee families and report low kindergarten readiness.

In monitoring and evaluating this research, we intend to continue our use of the same cyclical process that led to the development of our research question (i.e., planning, taking action, observing, evaluating, and reflecting). We will monitor our enrollment of families by continuing to use the automated database dashboard  that  we  created  to  manage  enrollment  in  the  IL  program.  This  dashboard  provides  a demographic  snapshot of those who completed  our surveys, along with a statistical  overview of their reading  practices.  This database  also will be used to keep track of which families  participated  in our focus  groups  and  community  reading  events.  Importantly,  it  will  be  the  medium  that  allows  the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to match DIBELS early reading assessment scores with the demographic characteristics that we are collecting in order to examine the relationships between the reading practices of families and their children’s eventual kindergarten  readiness. This system runs on the assignment of random identification  numbers to each child enrolled in the IL program, which then will allow us to merge our various data sources as they are completed.

In addition  to better serving  our families’  needs, we anticipate  that one of the key outcomes  of this research will be greater collaboration among community members and community organizations. To monitor  and evaluate  this, we plan to administer  a collaboration  survey  adapted  from the American Journal  of  Evaluation  that  will  examine  the  changing  level  of  interaction  among  members  of  our coalition’s action teams. We already have piloted this on the Measurement Action Team and found an increase in both number of relationships and their depth. This instrument will be both an indicator of progress and a useful tool for continuously revisiting our collaborations to date and examining how we can  improve  on  them  in  light  of  the  emerging  results  of  our  research.  This  entire  process  will  be overseen by the managing partners of our coalition who, representing the major institutions in our community, will review quarterly reports from the co-­‐chairs of each of the action teams involved in this research (i.e., the Measurement and Early Childhood ATs).

This project builds on a string of community successes that revolve around literacy across the lifespan. This  summer  we  learned  that  the  coalition,  through  its  charter  member,  the  Syracuse  City  School District, won a record setting third literacy zone (LZ) grant from the New York State. Developed by the NYS Board of Regents and Education Department, LZs are designed to close the achievement gap of concentrated poverty and limited literacy skills in urban and rural communities. The NYS Education Department has identified 18 LZ’s across the State. Syracuse is the only city in the state that has won 3 LZ grants.

By strategically launching Imagination Library (IL) within a LZ in 2010, we have been able to leverage our efforts to support parental involvement in their children’s literacy development at home and within the school system. Through this organic outreach and programming, we now have enrolled 1,282 children in IL and distributed 19,172 books. In addition, we launched a series of Literacy Champion grants last year upon  which   we  have  based  the  research   methodology   for  this  proposal.   The  focus  on  parent involvement and improved parent literacy is key to its success.

In addition, as a coalition we have made great strides toward community discernment of needs and objectives given that our coalition was founded in 2007 by a six-­‐month series of meetings that included approximately 200 community members. As part of this we have created a new leadership institution consisting of vibrant action teams based around community literacy needs. Co-­‐chairs  of each of these teams comprise  our managing  partners  and the United Way of Central New York serves as our fiscal sponsor.  As a testament  to our community  buy-­‐in,  in March  2011  we were  able to raise $50,000  in matching support through donations from our coalition members for a total of $100,000.

In May 2012, the LCOC is proud and excited to be invited to co-­‐locate with ProLiteracy in the new Ruth J. Colvin Center for Innovation and Excellence in Adult Literacy.  The Colvin Center represents ProLiteracy's commitment to Central New York by allowing for collaboration with member organizations and new partners, on research, demonstrations, and public service.


With  the  CSAP  process  serving  as  a  catalyst,  the  Syracuse  area  community  has  come  together  to continue the work by the Literacy Impact Task Force in 2007 and the development of the Community Literacy Outcome Indicators. As has been noted, a broad based coalition is in place that consists of practitioners, parents, city school district officers, city and county officials, local foundations, the library, public communication organizations, and post-­‐secondary institutions.

Action Teams and Managing Partners responded to the interest in formalizing a plan as the solution to achieving grade-­‐level reading by the end of third grade.  The LCOC is the natural convener and facilitator to lead the Campaign for Grade-­‐Level Reading.   These meetings and discussions crystallized the need to gather and analyze the data in order to have our baseline from which we could then make informed decisions and realistic action plans.  A neighborhood investment approach was active and successful in two  quadrants   of  the  city   and  proved   a  good   focus   for  a  Promise   Neighborhood   and  Choice Neighborhood collaborative effort.  While not funded yet, this brought organizations together again and leaders began to discuss more actively  the idea of focusing  on the youngest,  using the resources  for early childhood education, considering  marketing efforts to raise awareness about reading to children daily.  Additionally,  Dolly  Parton  Imagination  Library  is already  in Northside  – two  zip codes  -­‐     as our strategy for increasing the number of books in the home and daily reading.   The LCOC’s work with our local adult education providers, in particular, speaks to the importance placed on the educational needs of  the  parents.   In  partnership  with  ProLiteracy  and  Clear  Channel  Radio,  the  LCOC  developed  and launched an  online  database  of  adult  educational  and  literacy  services  in Onondaga County.

The barriers  of federal, state and local funding still exist but the leadership  in organizations  is at the table  working  toward  collaborative  models,  shared  resources  and  training  for staff.   Hope  has been restored with the appointment of a new Superintendent of Schools and her view to see community programs work alongside the staff of the school district and build after school and summer learning programs.   Say Yes to Education Syracuse, the Syracuse Connective Corridor and the post-­‐secondary institutions  are making a huge impact by becoming  directly involved in literacy efforts in the schools. Clear Channel Radio continues to conduct PSA’s about the significance of early and regular reading with children, kindergarten readiness, raising awareness about literacy as a solution.   In addition to the Community  Foundation,  we  continue  to  engage  the  expertise  and  support  of  our  local  foundations including:   The Rosamond  Gifford Foundation;  The Allyn Foundation;  The John Ben Snow Foundation; The Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation; and The Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York.

Today, this community  of practitioners  and leaders are at the table with a much clearer vision of the next steps toward the vision of 100% Literacy.   The expectation  is 100% Community  Engagement.   A more eye-­‐opened  practical  approach  toward  collaboration,  the strategic  and smart use of resources, and partnership support of the city schools has helped this Community Solution Plan gain momentum. We are poised in a new way to set goals through 2020 in order to achieve and celebrate success in the area of early childhood education through Grade 3 – where the impact will take us to a 100% graduation rate.  We are targeted, ready and realistic about the challenges before us.  There is nothing else that will work and we know that the business of educating our children starts early to finish successfully.


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