United Way of Southeast Mississippi recognized for work in supporting early school success

Campaign for Grade-Level Reading awards local nonprofit Pacesetter honor


HATTIESBURG, MISS. – The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has announced that it’s recognizing United Way of Southeast Mississippi with Pacesetter Honors for its work in 2021–22.

“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,” says Ralph Smith, managing director of CGLR. “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.”

The reviewers made their choices based on the communities’ ability to accomplish the following that demonstrates early school success:  

  • Stop playing catch-up: Ensure that fewer children start school so far behind.
  • End chronic absence: Don’t let students fall further behind during the school year.
  • Reverse the summer slide: Enable struggling and striving readers to make progress instead of losing ground.
  • Address health-related challenges: Healthy development is key to early academic success.
  • Equip parents to succeed: Parents are brain builders, first teachers and tutors, strong advocates and best coaches
  • Advance grade-level reading and math: Start early, align and integrate. 
  • Slow learning loss and accelerate equitable learning recovery: Fast track access to the internet, tutors and out-of-school learning.

In the past year, United Way of Southeast Mississippi has implemented multiple programs and initiatives to promote literacy, combat learning-loss due to the pandemic, and encourage Kindergarten readiness.

Some of these include:

  • Partnering with MiSsion Acceleration to offer high quality personalized literacy tutoring at after school centers in Hattiesburg
  • Increasing access to diverse children’s books for local pre-K students by holding a inclusive book drive for local childcare centers
  • Hosting a Community Literacy Day at The Library of Hattiesburg, Petal, and Forrest County for kids and families 

“We are honored to be one of only 35 Pacesetter Communities in the U.S. promoting and encouraging the educational success happening in our area,” said Tracie Fowler, CEO of United Way of Southeast Mississippi. “Our entire community benefits from our collaborative initiatives and the hard work of our local education partners. As this designation shows, we’ve made progress and need to continue to mobilize our community by working with our schools, city agencies, nonprofits, civic leaders and parents.”

The Southeast Mississippi GLR campaign, led by United Way of Southeast Mississippi, is made up of an Education Advisory Council comprised of 23 individuals representing local school districts, community organizations and businesses dedicated to the early success of students living in the greater Hattiesburg area.


About Campaign for Grade-Level Reading 
Launched in 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. Since its launch, CGLR has grown to include more than 300 communities, representing 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and two provinces in Canada — with 5,000+ local organizations and 510 state and local funders (including 200+ United Ways). To learn more, visit gradelevelreading.net and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.