Phoenix named 2022 ‘All-America City’ | news
The National Civic League and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading named the city of Phoenix as the winner of the 2022 All-America City Award, marking the sixth year the city has been awarded the distinction.
This year’s theme was “housing as a platform to promote early school success and equitable learning recovery.”
The city’s commitment to improving digital equity and collaborating with Phoenix residents in underinvested areas and public housing communities landed the city a winning spot. Phoenix was one of 20 finalist cities across the nation and is one of 10 communities to be recognized this year.
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, and equally proud the city of Phoenix has been honored with the All-America City Award for the sixth time,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.
According to the National Civic League, focus areas within this year’s theme included digital equity; relational support such as tutors, mentors and coaches; afterschool, summer and out-of-school learning opportunities; creating learning-rich environments outside of school; promising school readiness, regular attendance and summer learning; parents succeeding as essential partners in assuring the healthy development and early school success of their children; and parents succeeding in their own journey toward sustainable self-sufficiency.
During the past 18 months, the closure of schools, early childhood programs and child care centers in response to COVID-19 was a significant setback for all children’s early school success, and disproportionately devastating for children of economically challenged, fragile and marginalized families. Public housing authorities and affordable housing organizations can serve as focal points that bring together public, corporate and community-level stakeholders to support these children, adults and families.
“COVID-19 caused a profound shift in traditional learning,” Gallego said. “As students transitioned to an online learning environment, we knew too many families were missing the basic tools needed to navigate this new way of learning. City staff put forth a tremendous effort to close this digital divide, especially for our most vulnerable kids.”
During the pandemic, the city mobilized community partnerships to distribute more than 12,000 laptops to 15 school districts in underserved areas within public housing communities. In addition, the city provided 1,600 tablets and Wi-Fi connectivity to families and seniors for at-home learning, telemedicine and more.
Providing digital devices was one of many steps the city took to support its residents. As the literacy rate for Phoenix students passing the third grade reading assessment declined to 25%, Phoenix co-created literacy and tutoring programs with students, parents and educators to reverse the trend.
“As someone who grew up in public housing during my childhood, I understand the impact these programs have on our residents. It takes a village to aid in the success of our youth and I am proud to lead a city that takes initiative to make a positive impact on its residents,” said Phoenix City Manager Jeff Barton. “Congratulations, Phoenix, on a well-deserved win.”
The City of Phoenix is one of the most honored cities in the Country, winning the All-America City designation six times: 1950, 1958, 1980, 1989, 2009 and 2022.
The title is awarded by the National Civic League, to an organization that advances inclusive civic engagement. It does this through a network of community assistance programs including tools, training and facilitation services, award and recognition programs, and nationally recognized research and publications. The National Civic League also promotes efforts that seek to listen to, and to learn from residents in ongoing conversations and leverage those insights to help reshape communities so they will thrive.
The All-America City Award is made possible through the support of Southwest Airlines, the official airline sponsor, The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, WK Kellogg Foundation, CGI Digital, MissionSquare Retirement, HealthONE and Womble Bond Dickinson.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading seeks to disrupt generational poverty and ensure more hopeful futures for children of economically challenged, fragile and otherwise marginalized communities. The organization supports community-driven initiatives to improve the likelihood that these children will grasp the first rung of the success sequence ladder — graduation from high school. Since its launch in 2012, the Grade-Level Reading Communities Network has grown to include more than 350 communities, representing 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and two Canadian provinces. It is sponsored by more than 5,200 local organizations, institutions and agencies and supported by over 500 state and local funders.