Three nonprofits have been selected to share $100,000 in grants to support childhood literacy initiatives in impoverished neighborhoods throughout the Tri-State.
Last year, the Scripps Howard Foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation and WCPO 9 invited local nonprofits to apply for the grant. Out of an original selection of 10 organizations, representatives from the Scripps Howard Foundation and Greater Cincinnati Foundation narrowed the field to three finalists:
Learning Through Art, Inc.
Cincinnati-based Learning Through Art, Inc. provides performing arts programs to support education, literacy, community development and engagement across generations, according to co-founder and CEO Kathy Wade.
"Kids of all ages is what we like to always say," Wade told WCPO 9 News. "Everything we do is applicable to any age."
Wade said the organization's Books Alive! For Kids encourages literacy in participants by making reading a "multisensory experience."
"We make books come alive through sight, sound and touch," Wade said. "The program is a subscription that includes monthly reading and education materials shipped to the participant. It’s literally where we take families, children, parents, guardians and empower them to engage their children and their families in reading."
Project Ready! - Mount St. Joseph University
Associate Professor Amy Murdoch heads up the Reading Science Program at Mount St. Joseph University, where she and her team worked with teachers over the last year to develop research-based best practices for early literacy and language learning, an initiative called Project Ready!
"Our goal with the project is to reduce the early readiness gap that we see that exists between children living in poverty and their more advantaged peers," Murdoch said. "We know from the research that children living in poverty don’t have access to the language and literacy experiences of middle-class or professional children."
Murdoch's team facilitated a 16-week pilot program last year with the hope of expanding into a full, two-year preschool curriculum.
"We had dramatic results which really showed we were able to significantly reduce and even close the achievement gap between children living in poverty and middle-class children," she said.
Cincinnati Ready Kids - Children's Home of Cincinnati
The Children's Home of Cincinnati hopes its Cincinnati Ready Kids program will help children focus on early learning and literacy.
"Primarily, the families that we are able to serve are low-income families across Cincinnati," said the center's director of early childhood and school age services, Carolyn Brinkmann. "And so for those families, although their children’s early learning and literacy is important to them, often coming up with resources or connecting to things that help their child are difficult."
At the center's current funding levels, it can serve between 130 and 150 families this year. With the grant money available, they hope launching Cincinnati Ready Kids will enable them to serve as many as 190 families a year.
Importance of supporting literacy efforts
The grants will fund programs that teach parents to foster their children’s language skills from birth through preschool. In their first three years, children begin learning concepts that will aid them in learning to read. During this time, it’s important for children to begin developing vocabulary.
Parents can foster emergent literacy by reading books to their children, talking to children, teaching them songs and engaging in other activities to prepare them to read and write.
How finalists were chosen
Interested nonprofits submitted letters of intent in January. The funders reviewed those forms and narrowed the field to 10. In March, five semifinalists were announced. After conducting site visits, the funders selected the two finalists.
About The Scripps Howard Foundation
Dedicated to excellence in journalism, the Scripps Howard Foundation educates, empowers and honors extraordinary journalists who illuminate community issues, and partners with impactful organizations to drive change and improve lives. As the philanthropic arm of The E.W. Scripps Company, the Foundation is a leader in industry efforts in journalism education, scholarships, internships, minority recruitment and development, literacy and First Amendment causes. With a special commitment to the regions where Scripps does business, the Foundation helps build thriving communities.
The E.W. Scripps Company (NYSE: SSP) serves audiences and businesses through a growing portfolio of local and national media brands. With 33 television stations, Scripps is one of the nation’s largest independent TV station owners. Scripps runs an expanding collection of national journalism and content businesses, including Newsy, the next-generation national news network; podcast industry leader Midroll Media; and fast-growing national broadcast networks Bounce, Grit, Escape and Laff. Scripps produces original programming including “Pickler & Ben,” runs an award-winning investigative reporting newsroom in Washington, D.C., and is the longtime steward of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Founded in 1878, Scripps has held for decades to the motto, “Give light and the people will find their own way.”