Literacy Grants

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  • April 1, 2017

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 2016 Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grant recipients:

Mary Elizabeth Ambery, Ph.D.
Southeast Missouri State University

Born to Read

Since 2001, when Born to Read was first launched, the Southeast Missouri State University chapter has been committed to providing a cherished Little Golden Book to every baby born in Cape Girardeau, Mo., local hospitals. As part of the program, local hospitals are provided with books to be given to parents as they leave with their newborn baby. Inside the book cover, a congratulatory note highlights the many benefits of reading with very young children and passing the love of learning from generation to generation. To date, Born to Read has given more than 30,000 books, and the first recipients are now teenagers! 

Andrew Barrett
Brigham Young University

Franklin Elementary Literacy Project

The Franklin Elementary Literacy Project is a literacy initiative designed to provide the resources needed for helping second and third grade children learn to read. It targets students at Franklin Elementary, an underprivileged school in Provo, Utah. To achieve this, the Brigham Young University chapter of Phi Kappa Phi purchases enough books so that children will be able to choose three different books each. The provided books allow the students to complete reading assignments and gain the critical skills needed to build a literacy foundation for the future. The program also donates one book for every fourth, fifth and sixth grader at the school.

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, Ill. 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. 

Paulina Erices and Veronique Diriker
Pennsylvania State University

Literacy Supplies for Children in Nicaraguan Impoverished Schools

Working with La Merced, a volunteer-based nonprofit organization in the U.S., members from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Pennsylvania State University chapters have teamed up for a truly collaborative literacy effort. In its first phase, the project will evaluate and assess the needs of teachers and administration at a K-12 school in Managua, Nicaragua. After assessment, project leaders will acquire the necessary materials to provide teachers with equipment and support to meet the children’s needs. Communication with school administrators and on-site visits will take place over 24+ months to assess impact and effectiveness of intervention for continued support.

Marsha Ironsmith
East Carolina University

Increasing Reading Comprehension and Empathy Through Children’s Literature

Increasing Reading Comprehension and Empathy Through Children’s Literature is a project that pairs East Carolina University psychology students with elementary-aged children attending an after-school program at Building Hope Community Life Center in Greenville, N.C. The Center’s goals include strengthening academic achievement and character development. As part of the project, ECU students facilitate the reading and discussion of books with characters from diverse backgrounds facing challenges familiar to the children. Discussions focus on encouraging empathy for others and are enhanced with creative writing, art, music and film projects to foster deeper comprehension. 

Mary Lagnaoui
George Mason University

Bilingual Books Project

The Bilingual Books Project at George Mason Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., aims to help elementary English Learner (EL) students make connections between home and school while also encouraging an interest in developing academic vocabularies in both first and second languages. As part of the project, participating students receive bilingual picture dictionaries and picture books that have a relevant connection to their family experience. Through access to the bilingual learning materials, the important home-school connection is strengthened, the child's dual-language identity is validated and the path to bilingual literacy is encouraged.

Leah McCurdy
The University of Texas at San Antonio

To the Mountain!: Combining Multi-lingual Literacy and Cultural Heritage in Belize

To the Mountain! is a multi-lingual literacy initiative that incorporates archaeological and cultural heritage outreach in Belize, Central America. The organizers of the project wrote, illustrated and published a trilingual children's story book based on an ancient Maya archaeological site called Xunantunich, located in Cayo District, Belize. As part of the project, books are distributed to primary school children in Cayo District to empower them to engage with reading and with their Maya cultural heritage. Each child will receive a personal copy of the book to help develop strong reading skills in their official national language (English), their home language (Spanish) and the language of their past (Maya).

Kurt Moore, CFRE
Elon University

It Takes a Village

The It Takes a Village project uses a collaborative approach to help children in the community who are struggling to read. The project provides strategic, one-on-one tutoring to in-need readers in K-8th grades. Beginning with the 2015-16 academic year, the program has expanded from one central location to five Alamance-Burlington School System Title 1 schools and now serves approximately 300 students. The majority of students come from low income families where studies have shown that two-thirds of poverty level households have no books at home. Students, who successfully complete the seven-week tutorial session, go with their tutors to buy books that meet their reading needs and interests.

Lisa Owens
Louisiana Tech University

Play Your Way to Higher Test Scores

Play Your Way to Higher Test Scores is a literacy project that aims to improve reading and critical thinking skills through the use of educational games that stress spelling and vocabulary. As part of the project, literacy kits are created with board games such as Scrabble, Apples to Apples, Scattergories, Balderdash, and chess and checkers. The kits, designed to promote critical thinking skills, will be provided to approximately 200 students in grades 9-12 at Homer High School in Homer, La. Additionally, the school’s library has provided a dedicated space, the Literacy Learning Center, furnished with a comfortable seating area with game tables and storage for the literacy kits. 

Gretel Patch
Boise State University

Mumbai Literacy for Girls

The Mumbai Literacy for Girls Project is a powerful initiative that strives to strengthen multi-literacies in underprivileged girls at the Sharanam Centre in Mumbai. The project’s three main goals include improving English language skills, teaching digital literacy skills and strengthening innovative spirits. To achieve these goals, a facilitator (in consultation with education professionals) plans and administers a year-long curriculum that instructs and measures individual progress through a variety of activities. The project will also provide electronic and other tools to expose the girls to coding, design, presentation, storytelling, Internet safety, geospatial exploration, STEM manipulatives and similar experimentations. 

Dr. Becky Sue Parton
Morehead State University

Project L.E.A.D.S. (Literacy in English and ASL for Deaf Students)

Project L.E.A.D.S. is a new initiative focused on improving literacy among deaf teenagers in Kentucky.  Literacy in this case refers not only to American Sign Language (ASL) and English, but also to expanding life knowledge about leadership, perseverance and post-high school opportunities. The project will provide all high school students at the Kentucky School for the Deaf with the book Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson on DVD in ASL and in traditional print format. The book covers topics including computers and digital publishing while inspiring young adults to become leaders, take initiative and build character. The package will also include a letter of encouragement from the Morehead State University chapter. 

R. Eric Platt
The University of Southern Mississippi

Literacy, Book Access, and The University of Southern Mississippi: Installing ‘Little Free Libraries’ to Increase Developmental Reading Engagement Among Students at the Dubard School for Language Disorders

The University of Southern Mississippi chapter created an initiative to install a Little Free Library that will provide students at the Dubard School for Language Disorders with free access to books. The stocked library will be installed on the USM campus in Hattiesburg, Miss., for students at the Dubard School, which provides developmental strategies and services to children ages 3-13 diagnosed with speech/language disorders. Through use of the Little Free Library and age-appropriate, development-centered books, the project aims to provide easy access to literacy resources, foster a love of literature and enhance the visible presence of Phi Kappa Phi on the USM campus. 

Norbert Puszkar
Austin Peay State University

Books: Candy for the Mind

Since 2003, the Austin Peay State University chapter has been involved with the safe Halloween trick-or-treating program, G.H.O.S.T. (Great Halloween Options for Safe Trick-or-Treating), held on the APSU campus. The project, Books: Candy for the Mind, is an early literacy initiative that provides books instead of candy to children in the community. As part of the project, chapter members solicit new or gently used children’s books and collect funds that can be used to purchase additional books. Whether the child is an avid reader or has never before owned a book, the APSU chapter aims to encourage a love of learning in the community with the gift of a book for every child.

Bailey Savage
California State University, Sacramento

Sacramento State Literacy Connection

The Sacramento State Literacy Connection is a collaboration of Dr. Robert Pieretti and students in the Applied Communication Sciences Lab (ACSL) in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Sacramento State. The program provides hands-on opportunities for student learning in the field of Speech-Language Pathology each semester and makes important contributions to the local Sacramento community in the area of literacy enhancement. The Literacy Connection is involved in three ongoing community-based projects, which include the Sac State Storytime Connection, regular parent training in literacy enhancement and a website dedicated to literacy.

Tettra Scott
University of Louisiana at Monroe

Improving Literacy Begins with Parents

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 K-2 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, provide resources outside of the classroom, improve reading comprehension and enhance self-esteem. 

Kathleen Tice
The University of Texas at Arlington

Open Door Preschool Project:  Bringing Books to English Language Learners

Open Door, established in 1971, serves preschool children who are English language learners from economically-challenged families. Through a service-learning partnership with The University of Texas at Arlington, children at Open Door receive individual or small-group reading aloud experiences over time. The project takes place during two semesters and includes a family literacy event where each child is given a tote bag that contains the books that were read aloud during the semester. University students participating in the project reflect upon what took place through talking and writing to complete the service-learning experience.

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi