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2019 Literacy Grant Recipients

Phi Kappa Phi is proud to present the 2019 Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grant recipients. 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.


Renee Bogschutz, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Interprofessional Toy Fair and Expo

One in six children in the U.S. has one or more developmental disabilities or delays. The Interprofessional Toy Fair and Expo, sponsored by the TTUHSC chapter and the Office of Interprofessional Education, gives those children from birth to age 3, and their families, hands-on demonstrations of how playing and reading can be incorporated into the learning environment to increase growth and development. The families also receive educational materials, books, and a therapeutic toy appropriate to their delay or disability. The Phi Kappa Phi grant will provide support for children across west Texas.

Lesley Casarez, Angelo State University

Rebels Excel at SEL

Casarez, the Angelo State chapter, and Lee Middle School in the San Angelo (Texas) Independent School District are teaming up to implement a social emotional learning program that encourages teens to excel and prevent problem behaviors. The program, which will take place on Fridays during student club time, will teach the almost 1,000 Lee students and staff relationship skills, self-awareness, and self-management. The Society grant will go toward purchasing the curriculum for the program.

Veronica Morgan Collins, Montana State University

Maintaining K-2 Reading Levels Over Summer Break

The Montana State chapter and the Bozeman Public School District will use this grant to provide more access to local school libraries over the summer for elementary students to prevent the usual summer drop in reading comprehension skills. Over the break, Phi Kappa Phi members will work with three school libraries to attract about 800 students and implement district-wide incentives to encourage students to read 100 books each over the summer.

Laura Efford, Longwood University

Reach Them to Teach Them

The Longwood University chapter’s program provides books featuring diverse characters for Charlottesville, Virginia, elementary teachers to use in classroom libraries. “The violent events of August 2017 disrupted the sense of safety and belonging for many members of our community,” Efford wrote. “Updated and diverse classroom libraries can help show kids that school is a safe place where their voices are valued.”

Paulette Harris, Augusta University

Free Keys to Read: Books & Plays

The Augusta University Literacy Center will use the grant money to facilitate a series of literacy plays teachers, students, and parents can attend. After the play, students will get a copy of the book the play was based on, all free of charge. “We are glad to be able to provide free copies of books to these children and their families,” Harris wrote. “We are empowering children and families to read through the support of Phi Kappa Phi.”

Danielle Hartsfield, University of North Georgia

Improving Literacy Instruction Through a Professional Learning Community

Alumni Teachers Engaging Aspiring Connecting Helping (TEACH), founded in 2017, is a program to support teachers in their first three years of service. With the support of Phi Kappa Phi, new teachers across North Georgia will be able to access an online space to discuss a series of texts on improving literacy instruction and learning in K-12 classrooms.

Mollie Hartup, Youngstown State University

Oh, the Places You Will Go with the YSU Pen Pals Project

Since 2012, the Penguin Pen Pals, a project of the YSU Honors College, has paired college students with local elementary students for weekly journal correspondence. With the help of Phi Kappa Phi, each elementary student will receive a copy of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You Will Go and the YSU students will develop lessons to guide weekly discussions about the book. The pen pal project enhances the connection between YSU students and the community, and this initiatives hopes to increase children’s proficiency in reading and appreciation for books.

Tyler Leng, South Dakota State University

Improving Health Literacy and Safety Through Infographic Fact Cards for Underserved Populations

The Health Literacy Project will focus on undereducated, poor communities; recent immigrants; and migrant workers to improve health literacy with user-friendly fact cards using free graphics and information from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The cards will address nutrition and food safety, medication adherence and how to talk to health care providers, and vaccines.

Melissa Rae McCutcheon, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Third Coast Science for You — Popular Science Magazine Outreach Initiative

Third Coast Science for You is led by the Marine Science Graduate Student Organization to bridge the gap between scientists and community by distributing free biannual Popular Science magazines in both English and Spanish to local parks and businesses. “The project emphasizes the marine environmental research that is taking place locally to help the community understand the natural environment in their backyard,” McCutcheon wrote. “This magazine also provides an outlet for scientists to practice science communication to a non-scientific audience.” The Literacy Grant will expand Third Coast Science for You to afterschool programs, libraries and more businesses.

Marla K. Robertson, Utah State University

Davis Dives into Books

Without Phi Kappa Phi, Robertson says, this program to give strategies for reading nonfiction texts to elementary students and teachers wouldn’t be possible. Utah State University Uintah Basin and Davis Elementary hope to improve reading and writing scores in the 2019-2020 school year through the donation of books by award-winning children’s authors and illustrators, and through professional development for teachers based on these books. 

Liberatus J. Rwebugisa, University of Nevada, Reno

The Student Success Center Project: Helping Every Child Succeed

The Literacy Grant goes global with Rwebugisa and Advocacy Tanzania’s efforts in northwest Tanzania. The SSC Project will build and sustain fundamental skills in language, math, and science by making books, tutoring, and mentoring available to students. The grant will help purchase textbooks and renovate a school building to establish the Student Success Center, and for mentoring and tutoring at the Kagondo A Primary School. “Bukoki village and other five neighboring villages have a total of eleven public schools, none of which have a library/tutoring center,” Rwebugisa wrote. “Information about receiving the 2019 Literacy Grant was shared at the parents’ meeting and all the local stakeholders are highly grateful.”

Muthukrishnan Sathyamoorthy, The University of Texas at Tyler

Project “Born to Read”

Tyler, Texas, will be home to a collaborative, community-based project to promote and support the development of early language and literacy skills in ethnically and linguistically diverse mothers from low-income families. Born to Read will recruit, train, and support mothers as they teach their children literacy and language skills. Data will be collected on their efforts to measure success.

Federica Zanet Wilhelm, University of Maryland University College

SoJust: A Zine on Social Justice Literacy

This project hopes to produce a literary publication by teens and young adults in Princeton, New Jersey, to advocate, educate, and inspire readers on issues of gender, civil rights, discrimination, and inequality. SoJust stems from a collaboration between the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, the Princeton Public Library, and is made possible by the Literacy Grant, which will allow for workshops, publication, and a wider reach in the community.