Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading: Celebrating Success and Looking to the Future with Summer Academy 2016

Last month, the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading honored Dubuque as one of 38 “Pacesetter” communities based on its work to eliminate barriers that prevent kids from reading proficiently by third grade.  

The Dubuque Campaign’s 2015 Summer Academy was cited for successfully improving the overall reading proficiency of 264 attendees based on improved spring and fall DIBELS assessment scores. In addition, the Dubuque Campaign reduced chronic absence among children in kindergarten through third grades at five Title I elementary schools in the Dubuque Community School District (DCSD). Rates dropped from 9-18% during the 2013-2014 school year to 6-12% during the 2014-2015 school year. 

“We are honored to be named as a Pacesetter community and we owe our success to the network of partners in Dubuque that are passionate about helping children in our community succeed,” said Eric Dregne, vice president of strategic initiatives at the Community Foundation. “This honor is a great reward for our partners’ hard work and will be a motivator in creating continued success.”

Planning Underway for 2016 Summer Academy

The Dubuque Campaign is already planning for continued success this summer with the rollout of Summer Academy 2016.

Research shows that low-income children can lose up to three months of reading comprehension over the summer. Without access to enriching summer activities, these kids are often as many as two grade levels behind their peers by the end of fifth grade. 

This year’s Summer Academy is taking aim at this “summer slide” with a six-week, full-day learning experience geared toward students not reading at grade level. The program will combine academic instruction with hands-on enrichment activities, field trips and service projects.

“Summer learning is one of the three main areas we focus on at the Dubuque Campaign and this year’s Summer Academy will help us make strides in keeping kids on track during those out-of-school months,” said Dregne.

Summer Academy 2016 is made possible by an expanded partnership between Every Child/Every Promise (through the Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading) and the DCSD, along with support from local community organizations. School district teachers will work to strengthen reading skills while community program leaders will provide afternoon enrichment classes, including STEM, creative arts and physical activities. 

“Research has shown that students who participate in summer programs offering a full day of literacy paired with enrichment activities can make notable gains in their reading skills,” said Dregne. “These programs can also have a positive impact on how parents encourage their children to read, so we are really excited to be able to partner with the school district in providing this high-quality program.”

For more information or to support the Summer Academy, visit www.readdbq.com/summer-academy.

This story originally appeared in the 2016 Spring Giving Matters (pdf).


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The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque envisions a vibrant and inclusive Dubuque region where everyone can thrive. Since 2002, we have inspired people to give back to their community, and we turn this generosity into lasting change across our region, increasing access to resources and opportunities that help all people succeed. 

Connect with us to learn about the many ways we are building a strong, thriving Greater Dubuque for all.