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United Way of Salt Lake finalist for national award

Published June 6, 2012 9:07 am

Education • Efforts to improve third-grade reading through network of neighborhood centers detailed in winning application.
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The United Way of Salt Lake is a finalist for the National Civic League's All-America City Award for its efforts in improving third-grade reading results.

A coalition of partners submitted United Way's application for the award, according to the news release. They include: South Salt Lake, Clearfield, Salt Lake County, Park City, Granite School District, Park City School District, Davis School District and several nonprofit organizations. Of more than 120 applications from across the country, United Way of Salt lake is one of 32 finalists for one of 10 awards to be announced July 2 in Denver, Colo.

"We are thrilled to be listed among the finalists for this award," Deborah Bayle, president of United Way of Salt Lake, said in a news release. "Together with our partners, we have established a bold set of goals and strategies to level the playing field and change the odds for all children so that every child can succeed, every step of the way, from cradle to career."

The United Way of Salt Lake is involved in the "Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Community Network" — a collaborative effort by dozens of funders and nonprofit partners across the country to ensure that low-income children succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.

Over the past four years, United Way has grown the number of its neighborhood centers from four to 26. The centers are in schools, apartment complexes and community centers to deliver on-sight learning.

Granite superintendent Martin Bates supports United Way's effort because it engages with disadvantaged children.

"These challenges are significant and no organization, institution, or sector working in isolation can close the achievement gap on its own," Bates said in the release. "It takes the efforts of all sectors and organizations coming together in a united effort to truly transform the lives of children and families."

No Utah city or organization has won an All-America City Award in the award's 62-year history. Last year, Cottonwood Heights was a finalist for the award.

To be chosen as a finalist, applicants briefly tell their community stories and list two of their most pressing challenges and three outstanding community projects.

More than 600 cities and communities across the nation have won the award and some have won as many as five times.

mappelgate@sltrib.com