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Roanoke’s Star City Reads Receives National Recognition

Roanoke Recognized for Work Supporting Healthy Development

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CCLR) has announced that it is recognizing Roanoke’s Star City Reads initiative as a Pacesetter recipient for its work promoting healthy development in 2019.  The 16 Pacesetter communities winners across the United States exemplify extraordinary vision and best practices for their work.

Roanoke was announced as a Pacesetter finalist in July, recognized for filing stories that were highly rated by peer reviewers from GLR Network communities. As the next step in the process, a Technical Review Team read the original stories and assessed supplementary data filed by the finalists to substantiate observable progress.

“At this challenging time, we have much to learn from each other. These Pacesetter communities are leading the way in these impact areas that we know matter. We congratulate them for this achievement and encourage our entire network of over 350 communities to learn from them,” says Ralph Smith, managing director of CGLR.

Roanoke received this Pacesetter designation for the 2019 expansion of the Feed and Read program, a partnership between Feeding Southwest Virginia and the Roanoke Public Libraries, which leads Roanoke’s Star City Reads CGLR initiative. In 2019 alone, 37,491 meals were served to Roanoke children ages 0-18, a significant contribution to the total of over 105,000 meals served from 2014 to 2020.

“Roanokers have learned that hunger is a hidden but prevalent problem that negatively impacts children’s ability to thrive,” said Sheila S. Umberger, Director of the Roanoke Public Libraries and lead of the Star City Reads initiative. “The Libraries’ amazing partnership with Feeding Southwest Virginia has helped us expand Feed and Read to include afterschool and weekend meal service. This fills a previously unaddressed need: children’s hunger outside of school. We are proud to play this important role in helping more children be able to succeed.”

The program continues to evolve in order to serve Roanoke children through the COVID-19 crisis. Since June 2020, the Roanoke Public Libraries and Feeding Southwest Virginia have offered curbside Feed and Read, which enables families to pick up two days’ worth of food and literacy materials three days a week from each City library.

 About the 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 350 communities across the United States and in Canada.

To learn more, visit and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd. To learn more about Star City Reads, visit and follow @StarCityReads on Facebook. The Roanoke Public Libraries website is RPL can be followed on Facebook and Instagram @RoanokePublicLibraries.

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