MDE News

Gulfport and Oxford/Lafayette County Named Finalists for All-America City Award for Advancing Early Literacy

by May 03, 2017

Carey M. Wright, Ed.D., State Superintendent of Education

Office of Communications & Legislative Support
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR, Director of Communications *601-359-3706 *FAX:  601-359-3033
Jean Cook, Communications Specialist *601-359-3519


For Immediate Release: May 3, 2017

Gulfport and Oxford/Lafayette County Named Finalists for All-America City Award for Advancing Early Literacy

JACKSON, Miss – The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GLR Campaign) named the communities of Gulfport and Oxford/Lafayette County among the 27 finalists for the 2017 All-America City Award (AAC). These communities across the nation are poised to receive the coveted AAC Award, a recognition created 67 years ago by the National Civic League. This year, the League is working with the GLR Campaign to recognize communities that have made measurable progress for low-income children on the key drivers of early reading success — school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and grade-level reading.

“We are thrilled to see Gulfport and Oxford/Lafayette County recognized for their efforts to develop programs and partnerships that support students reading on grade level,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Through their initiatives, these communities have made measurable progress in both school readiness and overall grade-level reading among children in need.”

Gulfport and Oxford/Lafayette County are the first two communities in Mississippi to participate the state’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which launched in 2016. The campaign focuses on promoting work in local communities that are interested in developing programs to enhance reading performance in partnership with schools. The goal is to create at least 10 community partnerships statewide.

“Recognizing these communities as All-America Cities is our way of applauding the civic leaders, nonprofit organizations and agencies, and corporations that have joined forces to build brighter futures for the children in their communities,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We are proud of these communities for answering the call and going above and beyond to ensure more hopeful futures for our nation’s most vulnerable children.”

This year’s AAC Award finalists represent the diversity of American communities from large urban centers to rural communities. Finalists will travel to Denver, Colo., June 14-16, during Grade-Level Reading Week and share their work with peers and participate in the event’s learning opportunities.

AAC Award winners in 2017 will be communities that:

•   Demonstrate they have moved the needle on outcomes for low-income children in at least two of the following community solutions areas: school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and/or grade-level reading.

•   Address the National Civic League’s key process criteria of civic engagement, cross-sector collaboration and inclusiveness.

•   Bonus points will be awarded for communities that have a plan for sustainability and for aligning, linking, stacking and bundling the most promising and proven programs, practices and strategies.

“We are honored to collaborate with the GLR Campaign in the All-America Cities program this year,” said Doug Linkhart, president of the National Civic League. “These cities are demonstrating that they can draw on the strength of their communities by harnessing the commitment of local residents, nonprofits and businesses to make a difference in the lives of their young people.”

To learn more about the AAC Award criteria and to view profiles for each AAC Award finalist, visit

For more information on how to become a Campaign for Grade-Level Reading community, visit



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