Ralph Smith from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading


by Rafael Otto



Ralph Smith is managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GLR), an initiative to mobilize communities to third-grade reading proficiency for children from low-income families. The GLR network now includes more than 300 Campaign communities in 42 states.

Smith has served on the boards of the Council of Foundations, the Foundation Center, Venture Philanthropy Partners, and the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation. Recently, he retired as senior vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and also served as a cabinet officer for the School District of Philadelphia. Previously, Smith taught Corporations and Securities Law and Education Law and Policy as a member of the Law Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, during which time he also served as a senior advisor to Philadelphia’s mayor. Smith led efforts to design and implement the school district’s landmark voluntary desegregation plan, negotiate some of the nation’s first education reform-driven teacher contracts, and develop Children Achieving, a district-wide blueprint supported by the Annenberg Challenge.

In this interview, we discuss how GLR is designed to help communities create solutions for kids, the concept of accountable advocacy, the role of philanthropy and state leaders, and much more. Listen, download, and share!

Ralph Smith visited Earl Boyles Elementary in September 2017, a GLR Pacesetter community.



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