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Alison Gowans
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The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading announced it is recognizing Cedar Rapids with Pacesetter Honors for its work supporting student success during the twin crises of the derecho and COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Cedar Rapids and Marion Public Libraries worked with the Cedar Rapids Community School District, Linn Mar Community School District, and Marion Independent School District to turn student ID numbers into library cards, creating nearly 40,000 library cards that allowed students to take advantage of online resources and print resources for pick up even when their school buildings were closed due to derecho repairs and the pandemic. 

Reading Into Success, the local Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, nominated the community for the award.  

“Through both of the unprecedented events striking our community, a common thread has been access – whether how to get access, who has and does not have access, and even where is there better access in our community,” Reading into Success coordinator Elizabeth Yusko said. “Those are also focus areas for our libraries and our schools, as highlighted by this collaboration.” 

The announcement occurred July 21 during Grade Level Reading Week, an annual week-long series of virtual events that spotlight how dozens of states are working to advance early school success and accelerate equitable learning recovery. 

Cedar Rapids was one of 18 communities selected from across the country.  

“Our focus is on finding the bright spots and silver linings that highlight how dozens of states are working to advance early school success and accelerate equitable learning recovery. Front and center are the Pacesetter Communities that illuminate all the great work that has happened this past year,” Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, said. “In these communities we found a common spirit for acknowledging the challenges and then developing creative and effective solutions that fit their local needs. We applaud the civic leaders and local funders whose time, talent, energy and imagination have fueled progress in these Pacesetter Communities.”