The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has announced that it is awarding $4,329,567 in grants to 20 museums and libraries in 17 communities in order to support the emerging role of these institutions in providing early learning opportunities, especially for low-income families. The projects, many of which involve partnerships with community organizations, further the goals of IMLS and its partner, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GLR), IMLS says. The funds are an increase from last year, when IMLS awarded more than $2.5 million for early learning grants.
The Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), divisions of the American Library Association, received the largest sum—$499,741—through the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program in order to conduct a three-year research project in Chicago’s public libraries. The research will focus on early literary programming and its impact on parent behavior and engagement, seeking to quantify how such parental involvement can improve children’s literary.
“Providing support for early learning in museums and libraries is a priority for IMLS,” says IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth. “We urge policymakers, communities, and schools to tap to into the unique resources of libraries and museums and incorporate them into community-based initiatives. With their rich collections and exhibits, museums and libraries provide personalized, experiential, and discipline-focused learning opportunities. This is just the type of learning now regarded as essential for building the language, cognitive, and social tools children need for a strong start in school.”
In June, IMLS and the GLR Campaign published the nation’s first look at museums and libraries as early learning community resources: Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners. The report identifies 10 key ways these institutions support young children’s learning, showcases examples of impactful early learning projects, and calls upon policymakers, practitioners, and parents to make full use of the nation’s network of 17,500 museums and 123,000 libraries.
GLR is currently working with 134 communities to improve school readiness, fight chronic absence, and reduce the summer slide in an effort to improve reading proficiency by third grade, IMLS notes.
Adds Ralph Smith, the campaign’s managing director, “We know that literacy must be nurtured from birth and that schools can’t do this alone. “Parents, caregivers and the broader community have vital roles to play. And trusted community institutions are ideally situated to rally those efforts and provide the services, tools and supports to make sure that every child has a chance to learn to read well.”
The awarded grants are as follows:
Public Library Programs
Public Library Association – Chicago, IL
The association and ALSC will conduct “Bringing Home Early Literacy: Determining the Impact of Library Programming on Parent Behavior” to determine whether parents/caregivers who engage in early literacy practices with children help them develop the early literacy skills they need to be ready to read.
Providence Community Library – Providence, RI
Through the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program, the library has been awarded $250,000 to partner with Ready to Learn Providence on “Ready for K!” a school readiness program designed to reduce the achievement gap for children who are entering kindergarten and have not participated in formal early learning programs. The project includes professional development for children’s librarians and family literacy programming, including the creation of literacy kits with books and activities.
Columbus Metropolitan Library – Columbus, OH
Through the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program, the library has been awarded $249,727 to participate, in partnership with Learn4Life and Columbus City Schools, in the Supporting Partnerships to Ensure Ready Kids (SPARK) program, a home visitation program designed to increase high-risk children’s school readiness and parents’ effectiveness as learning advocates for their students. The program includes family activities in the areas of reading, language, and social skills, and will link families to other service providers that can improve children’s health/wellbeing.
Brooklyn Public Library – Brooklyn, NY
Through the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program, the library has been awarded $221,308 to implement, in partnership with the New York City Housing Authority and the Center for Educational Pathways, “Read! Write! Create!” a literacy program focused on comic book creation, which targets families with children between the ages five and nine who reside in three public housing developments and the surrounding low-income neighborhoods. It aims to reach 600 children over two years.
Pueblo of Santa Clara Community Library – Espanola, NM
Through the Native American Library Services grant program, the library has been awarded $138,741 to continue its role as a community anchor in fostering 21st century learning and information use with a range of interactive projects for community members of all ages. Programs will include Technology Access Nights, hands-on technology learning for all ages via two oral history projects, and a youth mentor/internship initiative, training young people in the Every Child Ready to Read Program and allowing them to practice these skills during a five-week Summer Reading Program.
Hartford Public Library – Hartford, CT
Through the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program, the library has been awarded $47,540 to conduct, in collaboration with Hartford Public Schools, two surveys and eight focus groups with teachers, parents, and caregivers to learn why many families do not engage in summer learning. The data will be used to create a framework for the “Summer Learning! Family Engagement Continuum.”
University of Denver, Morgridge College of Education – Denver, CO
The university’s Library and Information Science Program and its partners will use their $499,006 grant to fund the Early Childhood Librarianship program, which is designed to increase the number of librarians with MLIS degrees who are prepared to serve the early literacy needs of children 0–5 years, as well as caregivers, educators, and community coalitions. The program will fund 20 scholarship recipients to study brain research, child development, and the Spanish language.
Texas Woman’s University – Denton, TX
The university’s School of Library and Information Studies, along with the Texas Library Association and the Dallas Public Library, will use its grant of $469, 999 to recruit and educate 18 librarians specializing in early literacy with cultural sensitivity to provide library services for low-income populations.
University of Houston, Clear Lake – Houston, TX
The university’s School Library and Information Science program will use its grant of $463,857 to recruit 15 teachers and educate them in a master’s program focused on emerging readers (pre-kindergarten and kindergarten). This model program aims to be established through collaborations with the UHCL Early Childhood Program and field-based educational experiences.
College of Menominee Nation – Keshena, WI
Through the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program, the university has been awarded $100,000. Together with an additional award of $92,466 to the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin – Madison, the funds will support a collaborative project that aims to develop a model for early literacy programs, especially for rural, Native American communities.
The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System – Madison, WI
Through the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program, the university’s School of Library and Information Studies has been awarded $92,466. Together with an additional award of $100,000 to the College of Menominee Nation, the funds will support a collaborative project that aims to develop a model for early literacy programs, especially for rural, Native American communities.
University of Maine – Orono, ME
Through the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program, the university’s Raymond H. Fogler Library and College of Education and Human Development has been awarded $49,922. Together with the Old Town Elementary School and Old Town Public Library, the university will use the grant to support the planning of three informational text kit sets (20–30 kits per set) that will become long-term support for early literacy in Maine. Once created, the kits will hopefully act as a model for other libraries.
Museum and Community Programs
USS Constitution Museum – Boston, MA
Through the National Leadership Grants for Museums program, the museum has been awarded $280,623 to identify characteristics of family programming that result in active intergenerational engagement, enjoyment, and learning in museums and libraries. A rigorous, iterative prototyping process at the USSCM and in libraries across Massachusetts will be followed by broad dissemination of the findings to museum and library professionals locally and nationally.
Port Discovery Children’s Museum – Baltimore, MD
Through the Museums for America program, the museum has been awarded $150,000 to design, fabricate, install, and promote a new exhibit, “Here We Grow,” that explores agriculture through themes of science and technology, history, local ecology, global economy, and art. It will link to Maryland’s Social Studies and STEM curricula and aims to motivate students who have difficulty engaging in classroom settings. The museum will partner with Towson University on the project.
EdVenture – Columbia, SC
Through the Museums for America program, The museum has been awarded $149,957 to implement the “Yes, Every Child” program to improve museum accessibility and engagement for Hispanic/Latino families in the Columbia metropolitan area. The museum will build internal capacity including facility, staff/ staff skills, and community networks to better connect with and respond to this community.
New England Aquarium – Boston, MA
Through the Museums for America program, the aquarium has been awarded $149,863 to create a three-year program called “Connecting to Oceans,” which will aims to help children K–3 develop science and literacy skills through the use of live animals and the exploration of outdoor habitats. The program will partner with community organizations to reach an estimated 300 children through 162 learning experiences during the school year and 54 summer program days.
New England Aquarium – Boston, MA
Through the Museums for America program, the museum has been awarded an additional $149,770 to reduce barriers for potential volunteers and increase leadership opportunities for some of its most capable existing volunteers. The Live Blue Service Initiative includes hands-on, engaging, episodic volunteer service opportunities; expanded community partnerships; and a volunteer leadership training program. Activities will take place at the Aquarium and at partner organization sites.
Boston Children’s Museum – Boston, MA
Through the Museums for America program, the museum has been awarded $147,424 to partner with the Boston Public School’s Office of English Language Learners and the Building Educated Leaders for Life program to implement a Summer Club to prevent summer learning loss. It will include parental involvement, a five-week Friday night family summer camp with museum-based learning activities for immigrant children and their parents, and an evaluation component.
Bronx Zoo – Bronx, NY
Through the Museums for America program, the zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Society has been awarded $117,139 to redesign, update, expand, and digitize its Pablo Python K–3 curriculum toolkit for early learners, teachers, and parents. The project will add interactive online components, and make the toolkit available across all digital platforms.
Please Touch Museum – Philadelphia, PA
Through the Museums for America program, the museum has been awarded $102,484 to develop an interactive mobile communications app and website to support families through the kindergarten transition years. The app will translate existing resource literature and tools, such as a readiness checklist, activity calendar, and parent-child activities, into a digital format.