Shiane D. Jacocks

Vision2Read, the literacy campaign held in San Bernardino, was awarded two 2017 Achievements Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo) in civic education and public information. 

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

The Vision2Read literacy campaign 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, and enjoyment. 

“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…this year, I am certain there will be more great news and recognitions for our countywide literacy efforts in the future,” said San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Ted Alejandre.

Alejandre and California 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 step on the path to success in school, likelihood of going to college, and future earning potential, according to a 2010 report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. 

In September 2015, Vision2Read was launched at a Family Reading Rally, where the Molina Foundation donated 50,000 books to schoolchildren. Donations like this can encourage children to start adventures in reading, especially by authors across all ethnicities, genders, and sexualities in the Young Adult (YA) genre. Some of these YA authors include Julia Alvarez, Nalo Hopkinson, Gabby Rivera, Kai Cheng Thom, and Sandra Cisneros. 

However, in the bookstalls, statistics show that literature is still dominantly written by White cisgender (someone who exclusively identifies as their sex assigned at birth) males. According to an article in The Guardian, “In the US, the New York Review of Books shows a stronger bias. Among authors reviewed, 83 percent are men (306 compared to 59 women) and the same statistic is true of reviewers (200 men, 39 women).” 

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

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. 

To read is to learn, to challenge, and think differently. Critics believe if one is just reading books written by the majority, then perspective of others is being missed. Vision2Read has made it possible for children to reach that perspective of others.