The Countywide Vision’s literacy campaign, Vision2Read, won two 2017 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo) in the category of civic education and public information and for its website,

NACo is an organization that honors innovative and effective county government programs that enhance services for residents. Awards are given nationally in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. This year, NACo recognized 605 entries from 108 counties in 29 states.

“It is phenomenal news that Vision2Read is receiving national acclaim from the National Association of Counties,” said San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Ted Alejandre. “It’s been exciting to see the collaborative nature for the support of our Vision2Read initiative for the advancement of early literacy across our region. With the implementation of additional early literacy efforts like the countywide Footsteps2Brilliance’s launch this year, I am certain there will be more great news and recognitions for our countywide literacy efforts in the future.”

Alejandre and Cal State University San Bernardino President Tomás D. Morales are leaders of the Countywide Vision project’s Education Element group. The Education Element group is charged with developing strategies to achieve the Vision’s Cradle to Career Goal. The group identified early childhood literacy as a critical first step on the path to success. Reading at grade level by third grade is one of the greatest predictors of children’s success in school, their likelihood of going to college and their future earning potential, according to a 2010 report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The community-driven Countywide Vision project took on literacy as its first public-facing campaign in September 2015 after learning that 69 percent of San Bernardino County third-graders did not meet state English language/literacy standards that year.

The County of San Bernardino, San Bernardino Council of Governments, our local city, school, special district, business and nonprofit partners recognized literacy impacts all elements of our community – public safety, education, wellness, jobs and the economy. An educated workforce will attract employers and investment to our county. Vision2Read promotes existing literacy and reading programs, directing those who need reading assistance to programs, encouraging members of the community to volunteer to teach others to read and raising overall awareness of the importance of reading for academic and economic success.

The San Bernardino County Information Services Department and United Ways of San Bernardino County worked together to design and provide a literacy resources and volunteer opportunities portal to the website.

“Our goal is to connect families and their children with the resources for a bright future and it was our pleasure to partner with the Countywide Vision project to do just that,” said Gregory Bradbard, president and CEO of the Inland Empire United Way.

Vision2Read launched at a September 2015 Family Reading Rally where the Molina Foundation donated 50,000 books to schoolchildren. In January 2016, First 5 San Bernardino invested $250,000 to expand the Reach Out and Read program in the county, which provides books to pediatricians to give to their patients to reinforce reading as a critical activity for brain development. In summer 2016, libraries countywide held a summer reading program challenge, increasing the number of participants by 28.3 percent in 2016 with 47,632 people compared to 2015 with 37,122 people. Over the first 15 months, 92,400 people participated in numerous events and reading challenges held at County Library branches.

On Dec. 6, 2016, the Board celebrated the campaign by recognizing 35 Reading Heroes – people nominated by the community for their contributions to literacy.

So far, more than 170,000 people have been connected to literacy programs through the Vision2Read campaign and its events.