Literacy Grants

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The Literacy Grants program was initiated to mobilize members and resources of Phi Kappa Phi and the higher education community to champion literacy initiatives. Grants of up to $2,500 are available to Phi Kappa Phi chapters and individual members to fund ongoing literacy projects or to create new initiatives. The Society's commitment to the cause of literacy grows out of and is consistent with its mission, which was expanded to include "…and to engage the community of scholars in service to others."

Phi Kappa Phi is proud to present the 2017 Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grant recipients:

Michelle Allison
University of West Alabama


Brookwood's Leveled Reader Library

Brookwood's Leveled Reader Library is an initiative aimed at encouraging and improving literacy among students at Brookwood Elementary in Alabama. As part of the project, a leveled library will be created to serve as an additional resource separate from the school’s traditional library. All teachers will have access to the leveled library and can check out books on the same reading level as their students. Using the resources provided through the library, the teachers will be able to diligently educate students based on their specific needs. The University of West Alabama chapter of Phi Kappa Phi will purchase reading materials to be housed in the library as part of the initiative. 


Emily Taylor Beighley
University of California, Davis


Paws and Tales

Paws and Tales brings shelter cats and kittens waiting for adoptive homes together with children ages 6-15 to promote literacy and compassion. Helpful for fluent as well as struggling readers, Paws and Tales seeks to help students become stronger, lifelong readers. Studies at UC Davis and Berkeley show that children's reading skills improve by 20-30 percent when reading to a pet. Since the human-animal bond lends itself to the emotional safety required for healing and learning, the program also provides other results such as improved confidence and self-esteem. The comforting and non-judgmental presence of an animal companion helps young learners associate reading with positive and rewarding experiences.


Alexandra Kelly Brooks
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Juvenile Detention Center Science Outreach Program

While substantial effort has been invested in STEM enrichment among K-12 students and the general public, incarcerated teens rarely have access to the benefits of STEM outreach. To foster scientific literacy and critical thought among an often vulnerable and marginalized population, the Juvenile Detention Center Science Outreach Program provides a weekly science curriculum to incarcerated teens at the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center in Champaign County, Illinois. The students, ages 10-17, meet every week for two 45 minute science-themed discussions coined “Science Mondays.” The program includes discussions on college-level science topics and hands-on lab activities. 


Valarie Burke and Katelyn DiBenedetto
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Project Transforming Tomorrow

The University of Nevada Las Vegas chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, in collaboration with the UNLV Graduate College, created Project Transforming Tomorrow as an after-school program aimed at providing greater access to information about higher education to high school students in the Las Vegas Valley. Initially, the program will work with one high school that has previously collaborated with UNLV’s College of Education and that has high percentages of first-generation, low-income, and/or minority students. As the program grows, additional high schools will be incorporated. The program will take place at the selected high school, and the school’s administrators and teachers will choose the first cohort of students.


Russell Carpenter
Eastern Kentucky University

Community Reads: Developing Critical Reading and Metacognitive Practices in Students

The Community Reads program, developed by the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity at Eastern Kentucky University, is a pilot version of a summer program designed to develop critical reading and metacognitive strategies in high school students. The aim of the program is to prepare the students for college-level reading and learning. The pilot program will bring high school students into Noel Studio over the course of approximately three days and pair them with highly trained peer consultant facilitators who will model and facilitate learning of critical reading skills of a variety of texts through metacognitive processes during interactive workshops, one-on-one consultations, and creative activities. 


Lesley L. Casarez
Angelo State University


Families Who Read Together

Fort Concho Elementary is both a neighborhood school and a Gifted and Talented magnet school serving students across San Angelo, Texas. For the past several years, the entire campus has participated in a “Families that Read Together Succeed Together” project to kick off the school year. As part of the project, each student in the school is given a book and the expectation is that families will read the book together following the established timeline. As the entire campus reads the same book, additional activities expand the learning opportunities. By encouraging families to read together, the program builds bonds in families, helps build the vocabulary of students, and enhances communication skills.


Rhonda Cooksey
University of Missouri–Kansas City


HIKE Up Literacy

Phoenix Family's HIKE (Help Instill the Key to Education) Up Literacy project helps brings educational materials to Kansas City housing projects to close the literacy gap among urban poor elementary students. Each community participating in the program has a reading room for children. The University of Missouri–Kansas City chapter of Phi Kappa Phi will provide educational books, magazines, and educational games to six of these facilities. Volunteers from the chapter will also help children learn to read and complete homework, while also reading to seniors who can no longer read or never learned. The project’s aim is to provide children in the urban core with the opportunity for a brighter future.


Dalia Karina Delanuez
Clemson University

Tiny Book House

The Tiny Book House project will promote the love for reading, research, and neighborhood involvement to more than 9,200 families from different racial backgrounds of Staunton Bridge Road in Greenville, South Carolina. The project aims to integrate and engage communities that will motivate and foster the love of reading. Habitat for Humanity will partner with the Clemson University chapter of Phi Kappa Phi to implement the project. The first phase will promote, build, and stock the Tiny Book Libraries with new books. The second phase aims to promote literacy and reading activities through the website and community gatherings while integrating families with children K-12 using a community recreational center, the library system, and churches throughout community.


Benjamin Jacob
Brigham Young University


My Story Matters: A Literacy Project

The Brigham Young University chapter of Phi Kappa Phi has partnered with My Story Matters, a small nonprofit foundation in the community, to publish the stories of children who have unique life experiences such as being a refugee or immigrant. The project’s aim is to focus on children who are suffering and undergoing a difficult transition while increasing cultural literacy by telling stories that often go untold. Phi Kappa Phi volunteers will work with the My Story Matters team to interview the children in their school while also assisting with the writing, formatting, and photography for the stories. Once published, the books will be available in both the school and classroom libraries for other students to read.  

Leah McCurdy
The University of Texas at San Antonio

Bringing “To the Mountain!” to Their Ears: A Trilingual Audiobook for Multilingual Literacy and Cultural Heritage Preservation in Belize

The Bringing “To the Mountain!” to Their Ears project is an extension of the trilingual and archaeologically accurate children's book titled “To the Mountain!” The book was written as a way to connect Belizean children to their cultural heritage. In 2016, the book was distributed for free to nearly 1,000 school children. The current phase of the initiative focuses on creating a trilingual audiobook companion with students lending their own voices to bring the story and language to life. The audiobook will be a unique educational resource for rekindling interest in ancestral Maya language, personal multilingual literacy development for all ages, and classroom-based heritage studies within the Belizean educational system. 


Tulsi Patel
East Carolina University

Para Tu Salud: Una Campaña de Alfabetismo

Para tu Salud: Una Campaña de Alfabetismo is a project aimed at reducing health disparities experienced by the Latino population in eastern North Carolina by approaching the challenge of health literacy. The program promotes a culture of safety for these residents through a multi-level initiative to increase the comfort experienced in healthcare settings. By advocating for greater health literacy, the program will help ensure patients return to their homes with better understanding of what actions and precautions to take for improved health. Action will also be taken to encourage the integration of Latino culture with the Western medical model to achieve greater patient adherence to doctor recommendations. 


Will Porter
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Mozambique Music School

Mozambique Music School seeks to foster a love of learning by providing brass instrument lessons and basic music theory classes to young Mozambicans, free of charge. With the initiative, students learn to become fully music literate while learning how to play trumpet or trombone. Founded in February 2017, longer-term aims include training musicians to a level that allows them to join the Xiquitsi (“Shi-keet-see”) Project ensemble. The Xiquitsi Project also provides free musical training and aims to introduce the first classical youth orchestra to Mozambique. Because the Xiquitsi Project currently consists of only string instruments, the Music School will also provide a source of brass players to join the orchestra. 


Muthukrishnan Sathyamoorthy
The University of Texas at Tyler

Born to Read for Minority Children

The Born to Read for Minority Children project is a collaborative, community-based initiative in Tyler, Texas, that seeks to promote and support the development of early language and literacy skills for children of ethnically and linguistically diverse mothers from low-income families. The program has three intended goals: empower 45 mothers of newborn babies to help them support the development of their children’s early language and literacy skills, provide the mothers with necessary tools, resources and training to support their children’s early language and literacy skills, and evaluate the extent to which the project has achieved its intended outcomes.


Tettra Scott
University of Louisiana at Monroe

Improving Literacy Begins with Parents 2017

The Improving Literacy Begins with Parents project focuses on instilling a love of literacy in children by starting with their parents. Tensas Parish is a small rural impoverished area located in northeast Louisiana in the Mississippi River delta area. Less than 25 percent of students in the parish can read on grade level when they enter the third grade. Through the project, parents with a child in grades 1-3 enrolled in the Tensas Parish School System will receive at least four books to read with their child daily. The project’s aim is to create a foundation for a home library, help students make gains in reading comprehension, and improve self-esteem.


The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi