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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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EVERY CHILD/EVERY PROMISE. America's Promise, a national organization, was established in 1997 and headed by retired General Colin Powell. Five promises to kids were to be addressed: presence of caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to help others. The Every Child Every Promise Initiative was established by the COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF GREATER DUBUQUE and Mississippi Valley Promise and launched in May 2007. The local movement sought to engage members of the community in helping to identify what services existed, where gaps existed in service, and how the community could work together to assure every person up to the age of 20 in Dubuque County received the resources to be successful. (1)

February 18, 2008 was dedicated as "A Day of Promise" in Dubuque with a community gathering scheduled for the Park View Room at DUBUQUE GREYHOUND PARK AND CASINO.

A community breakfast meeting was hosted on March 3, 2008 to unveil a growth chart demonstrating the work of months of data collection and meetings with community leaders. (2) The Every Child growth chart, for example, gave Dubuque County a grade of "C" in graduation rates (86%). That was below the state average of 91% and was in a decline. The chart indicated a grade of D+ to the city for providing safe places for children. A Dubuque County child abuse/neglect rate was 2.1 percent compared to a national average of 1.9. (3)

The City of Dubuque Human Rights Department announced in April, 2008 that it planned to add an VISTA member for the July 2008-July 2009 year to assist with Project HOPE (Helping Our People Excel), Every Child Every Promise, and the multicultural family center. The DUBUQUE RACING ASSOCIATION awarded Mississippi Valley Promise $28,000 for marketing and advertising its program. In September with the beginning of school the Telegraph Herald referenced national and local research to show the need for children:

                         a. 40% of youth did not have a adult they could talk to about problems,
                         b. 24% of Dubuque County eighth graders spent six or more hours without
                            adult supervision,
                         c. 700 kids in Dubuque were on a waiting list for a mentor (4)

By October, the mayor and city council of Dubuque had made the city's youth a top priority for 2009. (5) The Telegraph Herald editorial board suggested supporting a bill to raise the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 17. (6) Funding pledges continued including a minimum three-year $10,000 annual gift from DUBUQUE BANK AND TRUST COMPANY. (7)

Organizers of Every Child Every Promise indicated in November, 2008 that two meetings would be scheduled that month with representatives of social service agencies, educators, and health care providers to develop a master plan for improving the welfare of Dubuque County children. (8) Dubuque won national recognition in 2009 for its Every Child/Every Promise Initiative and was named one of the nation's Best Communities for Young People by the America's Promise Alliance. (9)

Working with other community agencies marked 2009. The Quality Child Care Alliance was formed with the Dubuque County Empowerment, Every Child and other local organizations which then spent the week of April 19-25, Week of the Young Child, collecting books at drop sites. The books were distributed to child-care centers and registered child-development homes that participated in Iowa's Quality Rating System. QRS was founded to raise the quality of child are, increase the number of children in high-quality care, and educate parents about quality child care. The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque awarded Every Child/Every Promise $5,000 in October to fund and Before and After School Assessment and Development. (10) The 5th Annual Kids Expo was scheduled for November 7th at the Grand River Center. More than fifty exhibitors offered information for children of all ages. Participating were music programs, local camps, child care centers, preschools, health care services, and social service groups. Each family present was given a Family Resource Guide as a reference book for all of the activities and services in the Dubuque area. That year's event was a collaboration of Dubuque County Empowerment and Every Child Every Promise with dozens of local sponsors. (11)

New alliances were formed in 2010. In August "First Years First" of Dubuque County began "Born Learning," a program focusing on the importance of early learning by making everyday tasks educational. Created by United Way of America, the Ad Council and Civitas, the program locally was promoted by Dubuque County Empowerment, Every Child, The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and HONKAMP KRUEGER AND COMPANY. (12) Dubuque was again named among the "100 Best Communities for Young People," in 2010 by the America's Promise Alliance in part because of the Every Child/Every Promise campaign. (13) Supporting the program, the Youth Area Philanthropists (YAPPERS), the youth board of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, pledged $500 for programs fulfilling at least one of the five promises. (14)

The "Born Learning" program first announced in 2010 launched its Born Learning Trails initiative in 2011 at Berfeld Pond. A system of interactive signs were placed in the area to encourage families to discuss what they observed. Other signs were placed on walking trails at MILLER RIVERVIEW PARK and later along the BEE BRANCH. (15)

In cooperation with the Community Foundation, Every Child/Every Promise in 2012 with other local agencies worked to develop a comprehensive plan to improve the reading proficiency of Dubuque's students by the end of third grade. The plan would have three facets--school readiness, school attendance and summer learning. (16) More than one hundred people attended a meeting to discuss the plan. Among the ideas suggested were year-round school, rethink and expand the existing mentoring program, required attendance for younger students, and having librarians host summer reading programs at the schools. (17)

Improving and coordinating after-school programming took a great forward stride in 2012 with the Learning Enrichment After-School Programs (LEAP). Funded through an $850,000 five-year 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant from the Iowa Department of Education. With the hopes that 175 students from both of the middle school-chosen because they were Title I schools with high numbers of students from low-income families--would participate, administrators were amazed. There were about 240 students from Jefferson who attended 2,374 program sessions and about 263 students from Washington who attended 2,443 sessions. Thirteen community organizations partnered with the district to provide programs.

LEAP programs had four goal areas:

                  a. increasing the well-being of students by a focus on
                     academic achievement,
                  b. enhance the health and social well-being of students
                     by providing programs with social, emotional well-
                     being and physical activities,
                  c. promote preparation for a productive life by
                     providing high-quality and structured activities for
                     students with quality staff,
                  d. promote supportive structures and safe home
                     environments by increasing parent knowledge of
                     adolescent development and assisting parents in
                     helping their children with homework

Activities of LEAP included the zipline, exploring building and design, and creative arts. (18)

At the start of summer vacation in 2013, the Summer Academy, a summer learning pilot program for children in grades 1-3, was started by St. Mark Community Center. The program served forty-five students in Dubuque's Title I schools with reading scores at or below proficiency. The goal was to maintain or increase their reading score over the summer break. (19) At the end of the program, 57% of the students in the seven-week program for 1-3 grade students increased their reading skills based on Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Sills tests given at the start and end of the academy. Of the remaining students, 27% maintained their reading skills while 16% saw declining skills. (20) Dubuque's efforts to raise reading scores led to the city's recognition as a 2013 Community Pacesetter by the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. (21)

IBM, one of the city's newest industries awarded eleven computers to Every Child/Every Promise in 2013. The KidSmart Early Learning computers provided interactive learning activities for pre-kindergarten curricula. Every Child/Every Promise, the Community Foundation, and IBM distributed the computers to nonprofit child care centers where the machines taught socialization skills along with math, science and language skills. (22)

The summer reading program continued in 2015 with the DUBUQUE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT looking for proposals from providers interested in offering a summer enrichment program to complement the reading program offered by the district. (23) In 2016 the city was the recipient of its fourth consecutive recognition as a Pacesetter. Dubuque received the All-America City Award (AAC Award) for its civic engagement to help more young children from low-income families achieve grade-level reading proficiency and early school success. Dubuque was one of just 15 communities nationwide to receive the award from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the National Civic League, which created the program 67 years ago, during Grade-Level Reading Week in Denver, Colorado at the All-America City Awards. (24)



1. "Department Seeks VISTA Volunteer," Telegraph Herald, April 30, 2008, p. 6

2. Hogstrom, Erik, "Every Child Program Opens Journey," Telegraph Herald, March 1, 2008, p. 3A

3. Hogstrom, Erik, "Every Child Mulls Master Plan," Telegraph Herald, November 09, 2008, p. 1A

4. "TH Opinion," Telegraph Herald, September 30, 207, p. 20

5. "Letters to the Editor, " Telegraph Herald, October 8, 2007, p. 4

6. "TH Opinion," Telegraph Herald, March 24, 2008, p 4

7. "DB&T Pledges to Assist Effort," Telegraph Herald, March 8, 2008, p. 1A

8. Hogstrom, "Every Child Mulls..."

9. Piper, Andy, "City Piles Up Awards in 2008," Telegraph Herald, January 1, 2009, p. 1A

10. Hogstrom, Erik, "Foundation Gives Bigger Grants for More Impact," Telegraph Herald, October 9, 2009, p 5A

11. "Kids Expo Set Nov. 7th," Telegraph Herald, October 18, 2009, p. 20

12. Kramer, Danielle, "Born Learning Program Kicks Of," Telegraph Herald, August 11, 2010, p. 5

13. Hogstrom, Erik, "Dubuque Again Among "100 Best Communities for Young People," Telegraph Herald, September 22, 2010, 3

14. "Youth Board Accepts Grant Applications," Telegraph Herald, March 7, 2010, p. 15

15. Hogstrom, Erik, "A Great Way to be With Your Kids," Telegraph Herald, August 25, 2011, p. 3

16. "Workshop to Help Kids Hit Books," Telegraph Herald, February 8, 2012, p. 3

17. Becker, Stacey, "Ideas to Boost Reading Skills Flow," Telegraph Herald, February 11, 2012, p. 3

18. Becker, Stacey, "By Leaps and Bounds," Telegraph Herald, April 22, 2012, p. 1A

19. Dregne, Eric, "Learning More Fun Than a Summer Slide," Telegraph Herald, June 23 2013, p. 15

20. Becker, Stacey, "Program Boosts Reading Skills," Telegraph Herald, December 11, 2013, p. 3

21. "Dubuque Reading Program Gains National Recognition," Telegraph Herald, January 16, 2014, p. 18

22. "IBM Gives Computers to Every Child Program," Telegraph Herald, September 28, 2013, p. 3

23. "Partners Sought for Summer Reading Program," Telegraph Herald, 25, 2015, p. 11

24. "Dubuque Receives All-America City Award for Efforts to Improve Early Literacy," Online: http://dubuquespromise.org/2017/06/22/dubuque-receives-america-city-award-efforts-improve-early-literacy/