DENVER – The Council Bluffs community won its first All-America City Award at a convention Friday afternoon organized by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
The award recognizes the top communities in the country. It’s administered by the National Civic League and reflects residents, governments, businesses and nonprofits coming together to work on challenges – in this year’s case, working toward promoting grade-level literacy by the end of third grade.
An award luncheon was held Friday at the Westin Hotel at the Denver International Airport. Ralph Smith, managing director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, described the campaign’s efforts as helping communities to support parents as they raise their children.
“What we all have to do is to acknowledge that these parents know, care for and love their kids more than the rest of us. If we understand that, our job, our role, is to help parents envision bold goals for their own children.”
Smith said communities must then work to support parents as they work to obtain those goals and then find opportunities to mark progress and celebrate success. The campaign, he said, serves the same function for those communities as they strive to promote grade-level literacy for young children.
“We are here to mark progress, and certainly to celebrate a whole lot of success,” Smith said.
During the announcements, Council Bluffs was the 13th of 15 winners of an All-America City Award, out of 27 finalists who made the trip to Denver. Typically, only 10 awards are presented, adding to the suspense for the city. Des Moines and Dubuque also received awards.
Council Bluffs also was a finalist at last year’s All-America City Awards, as well as in 2012, the last time the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading was running the show on behalf of the National Civic League. The city hadn’t won the award previously.
According to the league, George H. Gallup dubbed the All-America City Award as the “Nobel Prize for constructive citizenship.” More than 500 communities have been recognized nationally since 1949. The league said the award “reinvigorates a community’s sense of civic pride.”
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading focuses on school attendance, readiness and summer learning — three areas where Council Bluffs has invested resources, whether its staff time for school officials, charitable dollars through the Iowa West Foundation, collaborations with area businesses and nonprofits, or launching the Raise Me to Read initiative in coordination with Iowa West and the United Way of the Midlands.
Winning an All-America City Award represented the culmination of efforts for outgoing Council Bluffs Community School District Superintendent Martha Bruckner, who was also recognized individually at a luncheon by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading at the…