CONTACT: Lois Meisenheimer 815/625-1495
WHITESIDE COUNTY REGIONAL OFFICE OF EDUCATION AWARDED 1 OF 10 2009 BARBARA BUSH FOUNDATION FOR FAMILY LITERACY GRANTS
The Barbara Bush Foundation announced, on April 23, that it awarded a $65,000 grant to the Whiteside County Regional Office of Education in Sterling, Illinois to fund the development of Whiteside County Family Literacy Partnership’s family literacy program, an intensive, center-based program offering Adult Basic Education (ABE), Adult Secondary Education (ASE), and English as a Second Language (ESL) for families of Whiteside County with children ages birth to five. The Whiteside County Regional Office of Education was one of 10 grant recipients chosen from nearly 400 applications. Since its inception in 1989, the Foundation has awarded over $30 million to more than 700 family literacy programs in all 50 states including our nation’s capital.
“Reading aloud to children, early and often, is the single most important thing that a parent can do to help a child start school ready to learn,” said Barbara Bush. “And, parents who are able to read, write, and comprehend can get better jobs, improve their families’ lives, and participate more fully in their communities as well. That’s why the projects we fund must provide literacy instruction for parents as well as their children.”
The Whiteside County Family Literacy Partnership’s family literacy program is a collaboration between Head Start, Sterling Public Library, Sauk Valley Community College, and the Whiteside County Regional Office of Education. The Partnership’s program differs from the traditional adult education program in that family literacy serves the whole family. The program includes children and families because parents are a child’s first and most important teacher, and the first years of a child’s life are extremely important for future development. The program provides the opportunity for adults to improve their education, helps children to be ready to successfully start school, helps parents to support their children in their development and education, and supports the whole family as they move forward in meeting their goals and becoming successful and productive members of the community. Flexible daily programming includes adult education, early childhood education, parenting education, and literacy-based interactive activities for parents and their children.
Regional Superintendent Steinert said, “This is definitely an honor to have received this grant. At a time when state funding has either been cut or eliminated, it will help sustain the services to those families that we serve through our family literacy program. It has been a goal of the Regional Office of Education to help parents be better parents and to get children ready to learn before they reach kindergarten. This grant will help us meet that goal. I am very thankful to the Barbara Bush Foundation for funding our grant application and look forward to working with the foundation on the implementation of this grant.”
This year’s grant recipients were announced at the Foundation’s 15th annual fundraiser, A Celebration of Reading, which was held at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston on April 23. The evening was hosted by George and Barbara Bush and star authors Ted Bell, Cherie Blair, Christopher Buckley, Sara Gruen, Jon Meacham, and Julia Reed as well as other surprise guests.
The nine other grant recipients are: Cambodian Association of America, Long Beach, CA; The Family Place, Washington, DC; Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care, Inc., Washington, DC; Union Mission, Inc., Savannah, GA; Howard Area Community Center, Chicago, IL; ISD 281 Robbindale Area Schools Early Childhood Family Education, Crystal, MN; Crossroads Rhode Island, Providence, RI; Middle Tyger Community Center, Lyman, SC; Madison Metro School District, Madison, WI.