aerial view of City of Roanoke with buildings and sky

Photo by Creative Dog Media. 

7.20.2022
By Roanoke College News

Roanoke College a key partner in Roanoke City's bid for 2022 All-America City Award

The City of Roanoke is competing this week for its eighth All-America City Award. Roanoke has already been named a finalist in the 2022 competition, out of more than 500 cities across the country.  

The All-America City Award, bestowed by the National Civic League in partnership with the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading, honors the best in American civic innovation from 10 communities each year. The All-America City award recognizes the work of communities in using inclusive civic engagement to address critical issues and create stronger connections among residents, businesses and nonprofit and government leaders. The theme for this year’s award is “Housing as a Platform to Promote Early School Success and Equitable Learning Recovery.” 

Roanoke College is a key partner in this effort. Dr. Liz Ackley, Brian H. Thornhill Associate Professor in Health and Human Performance, is one of the presenters for several presentations in the weeklong competition. Dr. Ackley’s selection positions Roanoke College as one of the five critical anchor institutions leveraging the city’s position for the award, along with the Star City Reads Coalition, Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Kids Soar, and Blue Ridge Literacy.   

Ackley is the director of the Center for Community Health Innovation at Roanoke College and conducts  an annual health surveillance system for the city which monitors health outcomes, engagement in healthy behaviors, and barriers to healthy living among Roanoke city youth. Information gathered from the Roanoke Valley Community Healthy Living Index is then shared with residents and partner organizations to collaborate in fostering equitable community development projects and practices. The Center also provides grant support and technical assistance to partner organizations seeking to develop data-driven strategies to promote a culture of health in the Roanoke Valley. The Center’s staff of research assistants are all Roanoke College students -- putting students on a path as agents of change through service-driven research experiences. 

 

“As a result of the relationships we have with the Roanoke City Public School system, the data I’m able to provide from the Roanoke Valley Community Healthy Living Index is central to our planning efforts. No other city collaborates like Roanoke does, and I’m so grateful there’s a role for Roanoke College in that process.”

Dr. Liz Ackley, Brian H. Thornhill Associate Professor in Health and Human Performance

“The Center for Community Health Innovation at Roanoke College is a Star City Reads coalition partner,” Ackley said. “As a result of the relationships we have with the Roanoke City Public School system, the data I’m able to provide from the Roanoke Valley Community Healthy Living Index is central to our planning efforts. No other city collaborates like Roanoke does, and I’m so grateful there’s a role for Roanoke College in that process.” 

Ackley, who is a resident of the City of Roanoke, will be giving two presentations – one on Tuesday in a session titled “Literacy Program Success – Best Practice Share Session.” Only a few communities were selected for this session, and it’s a part of the program sponsored by the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Ackley will be presenting on the use of the Roanoke Valley Community Healthy Living Index as a best-practice model for communities to establish and pursue realistic targets to promote grade-level reading attainment.  

On Thursday, Ackley is also part of the City’s formal award presentation panel. Her role will be to describe how the City collaborates to ensure resident voices are guiding the changes made within and across our diverse neighborhoods. Ackley plans to speak to the innovative data-sharing model that exists between the Center and the City, the metrics used to guide policy, program, and infrastructure change, and how housing can be leveraged as a platform for equitable community development.  

The community is invited to participate in the weeklong All-America City Awards celebration, beginning with a family-friendly community kick-off event on Tuesday, July 19, at the Melrose Branch Library in Roanoke. Best-practice presentations and panelist competitions can be viewed virtually via Facebook live. The winning 10 cities will be announced between 7:30 and 9:00 pm on the evening of Thursday, July 21. To view the presentation live, click here