As one federal literacy grant to HISD is ending, the U.S. Department of Education has approved a new, expanded $749,982 grant that will fund “Project REALITY” family library activities at 10 HISD elementary schools and extend to others during the summer. The acronym stands for Reading Elevates All Learners Through Integrated Technology for Youth.
“It shows that the Department of Education has faith in what we’re doing,” said Liz Philippi, manager of HISD Library Services.
The two-year initiative, under the government’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy program, is intended to create a “culture of reading” among families in the 10 schools that lie in the Worthing, Sterling, and North Forest high school feeder patterns, Philippi explained. Codwell, Elmore, Fonwood, Frost, Hilliard, Law, Lewis, Marshall, Reynolds, and Shadydale elementaries will be provided with librarians to host twice-monthly Family Literacy Nights at each campus.
Among the activities during those nights — which will extend to parents, siblings, aunts and uncles and grandparents — will be technology instruction to access e-books, and visits from the Houston Public Library to register participants for library cards, as well as traveling programs from the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Children’s Museum of Houston.
The grant will also fund:
• a librarian position to be shared by Elmore and Hilliard,
• summer hours and family activities at the school libraries, which will include parenting activities and toddler storytimes, and
• a bookmobile that will visit neighborhood parks that will provide summer reading to check out to students in all feeder pattern schools.
“A culture of literacy in the homes doesn’t happen overnight,” said Philippi. “It’s created by consistency, and this grant will help us provide the foundation for entire families to become year-round readers.”
While not formally part of the district’s Literacy By 3 initiative to have all students reading on grade level by third-grade, Philippi said Project REALITY provides an important component of bringing reading into homes, to complement classroom activities to nurture a love of reading.
Philippi said she expects the grant to be implemented starting in January 2015. Project REALITY is a combined effort among HISD Library Services, Family and Community Engagement (FACE), and the district’s Transportation Department.
For more information about the HISD Grant Department, click here.