On September 6, 2011, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 62 (ACR 62) Read Across California was chaptered into law. This resolution was sponsored by the Junior League of Los Angeles and authored by Assembly Member Julia Brownley. This momentous occasion was a culmination of over ten months of legislative advocacy work, which included writing the legislation, finding co-authors, and garnering support from outside organizations and other legislators. ACR 62 proclaims March of every year as, “Read Across California Month”, encouraging citizens of California to read for at least 30 minutes a day for 30 days during the month of March in conjunction with the “Read Across America” campaign held annually on March 2nd. This resolution also requests that various stakeholders work together to raise awareness of the importance of reading to young children and the importance of independent reading among our students and citizens of California. Children who independently spend time reading, score higher on tests than children who do not read. Unfortunately, 23 percent of Californians lack basic literacy skills. This measure will help foster a love for reading and knowledge and raise awareness of the importance of reading.Upon introduction of the resolution by Assembly Member Julia Brownley, we had secured five co-authors: Assembly Member Mike Feuer, Assembly Member Betsy Butler and Senator Fran Pavley, Senator Ted Lieu, and Senator Carol Liu. After it passed in the Assembly, fifty-four co-authors had signed onto the resolution. It passed the Senate on consent agenda without any amendments.

The adoption of this resolution is not the end of JLLA’s advocacy work on this issue, but only the beginning. This resolution addresses two of our public policy focus issues: Educational Achievement Gap and Literacy. These two issues received the highest prioritization of “areas of interest/ focus” among Actives and Sustaining members on our membership survey. We also are addressing these issues with our direct service component, our projects, with Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) “College Prep 101” Mentoring Program, Children’s Institute, Inc. “Stories Abroad” Literacy Program and the Children’s Bureau “Building Literacy One Family at a Time” Family Literacy Program.

As we move towards March, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) will be coordinating a multi-Council plan to implement “Read Across California” reading initiatives. These activities and strategies may include Done In A Day (DIAD) where JLLA members will read to children at various preschools, schools and organizations. PAC will also engage elected officials in a kick-off celebration and reading to children. The Public Policy and Communications Councils will work together to create a PR campaign, press coverage, and JLLA website and online marketing to promote this initiative. The Community Leadership Forum will be held in March and will be making literacy its focus. In addition, our President and SPAC Delegates will be working with the other California Leagues on how they can incorporate “Read Across California” initiatives into their communities.

The “Read Across California” resolution is another example of how direct service, capacity building and advocacy can be combined to create lasting community impact and change.

This article is reprinted courtesy of the Junior League of Los Angeles