The city of Dalton will be competing against almost 400 other cities from across the nation in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.
The challenge aims to identify and fund innovative local solutions to national problems, solutions that can be used by other cities. The winner of the contest will get $5 million, and four runners-up will get $1 million.
Bloomberg Philanthropies was founded by billionaire businessman and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“They are looking for something unique that can be used in cities across America,” said Dalton Mayor David Pennington. “K-12 education is on everyone’s agenda. The way to get individuals and communities moving is with a better education. We’ve just kicked off the Readers to Leaders program in Dalton and Whitfield County. That’s the basis of our grant request.”
Readers to Leaders is a collaborative effort by the city and county as well as Dalton Public Schools and Whitfield County Schools to make sure all students are reading on at least grade level by the third grade. The plan calls for local schools to work together using the Literacy Collaborative program already in Dalton schools to reach young struggling readers.
The Dalton school system is entering its eighth year using the Literacy Collaborative, which trains teachers to use intensive techniques to help students develop strong reading and writing skills. Whitfield County Schools is investing $800,000 to begin the program in its six elementary schools with the highest poverty levels: Antioch, Cedar Ridge, Dawnville, Dug Gap, Eastside and Valley Point. There are plans to eventually expand the initiative to all the elementary and middle schools.
Bloomberg Philanthropies will invite 20 finalists to a two-day “Ideas Camp” in the fourth quarter of this year. The finalists will submit a refined proposal early next year. Bloomberg Philanthropies will announce the winners next spring.