United Way to Lead Citywide Literacy Plan

Dr. Shawn Joseph, Metro Schools Director, left and Mayor David Briley

NASHVILLE, TN — The United Way of Metropolitan Nashville has been selected as the lead organization to manage the implementation of the “Blueprint for Early Childhood Success,” the first-of-its-kind citywide literacy plan to double the number of Nashville third-graders reading on grade level by 2025. The ambitious Blueprint combines the thought leadership of literacy groups, faith and volunteer partners, parents, students, and educators to create a shared implementation framework to address Nashville’s early literacy deficit.

Using technical support provided by the Center for Nonprofit Management’s Collective Impact Accelerator program, the Blueprint for Early Childhood Success Steering Committee assembled a panel to select a lead organization to manage implementation going forward. The panel, which included representatives from the Nashville Mayor’s Office, Metro Nashville Public Schools, the juvenile court system and other top education nonprofits, unanimously selected United Way of Metropolitan Nashville to serve as the Blueprint’s backbone partner.

“The Blueprint is one of the most comprehensive literacy plans in the country, and I’m confident that United Way’s vision will bring it to life,” said Mayor David Briley. “I look forward to seeing how they accelerate progress on the plan in 2019.”

As the backbone partner, United Way is tasked with managing all of the moving parts of this complex plan, which includes aligning the activities of Blueprint partners, sharing learnings across partners and sectors, and ultimately ensuring that all 29 Blueprint recommendations are successfully implemented to the benefit of Nashville’s children.

“Early literacy is one of the greatest investments you can make in a child’s future, and one of our top priorities at United Way,” said Erica Mitchell, chief community impact officer of United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. “That is why we are honored to lead the Blueprint efforts into the future, and are committed to doing the hard work necessary to ensure that every student, regardless of background or school zone, has the chance to develop the reading skills necessary for success in school and in life.”

The Blueprint was first unveiled in October 2017 by a community working group of more than 20 civic, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations convened by the Nashville Mayor’s Office, Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph, the Nashville Public Library and the Nashville Public Education Foundation. Currently, two in three of Nashville’s third-graders cannot read on grade level, a challenge the city has faced for more than two decades.

The Nashville Public Education Foundation, the current interim backbone partner, will oversee the transition for the next six months, at which time United Way will manage the Blueprint in full.

To view the full Blueprint and learn more about its progress to date, visit blueprintforearlychildhoodsuccess.com.

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