Black Hills Recognized for Work in Supporting Early School Success

The campaign for grade-level reading announced that it’s naming the Black Hills as a

2021 Bright Spot community for its responses to the COVID crisis last year.    


The Bright Spot Community award recognizes communities for crafting solutions that seem especially effective, replication-worthy and/or deserving of being sustained during the post-COVID period. In particular, CLGR is honoring the Black Hills community for developing a systematic approach for a statewide focus on early learning, as well as adapting resources and services during the
period of COVID-19.


"Early Learning is a fragile field in South Dakota and the pandemic made operations in this field that much more difficult.
We have seen providers having to pay the same expenses but operating at 50% or less capacity. Meanwhile, many in-home providers that were getting closer to retirement are choosing to retire early because the strain on their bottom line and struggles with the side effects of the pandemic are just too great," says Kayla Klein, Black Hills Reads Director.


"Black Hills Reads has geared the focus on not only supporting communities at a grassroots level for early learning but advocating and looking for policy change at the state level. These two efforts combine are showing the true potential of change that we can see in the early learning field in SD" says Klein.


“We applaud the civic leaders and local funders whose time, talent, energy and imagination allowed them to quickly adapt and meet this moment. They truly are ‘bright spots’ and we congratulate them for the differences they’re making. We look forward to learning from their success as we move onto a post-COVID learning environment,” says Ralph Smith, managing director of CGLR.


In the Black Hills, the local GLR campaign is supported by Black Hills Reads, the education initiative at United Way of the Black Hills.



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 300 communities, representing 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and two provinces in Canada — with 5,000+ local organizations and 510 state and local funders (including 200+ United Ways). To learn more, visit and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.