The Minneapolis-based McKnight Foundation has announced three-year grants totaling nearly $6 million to two school districts in the Twin Cities region to implement initiatives designed to increase literacy rates by the end of third grade.
Grants were awarded to Brooklyn Center Independent School District number 286 and Minneapolis Special School District number 1, both of which spent 2011 preparing for the possible implementation of early literacy programs. Over the past twelve months, the districts worked with internal teams and the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute to examine research-based approaches to literacy from pre-kindergarten through third grade and prepared key sites for related changes in operations and curriculum. In addition to funding, each school will be provided with opportunities for collaborative learning and knowledge sharing.
With its grant, Brooklyn Center will work to create a new literacy framework that includes aligned approaches to teaching reading strategies and skills, improved transitions between classrooms and grade levels, and assessments and reporting systems for sharing progress with parents. The Minneapolis Special School District will use its grant funds to implement the Partnership for Early Learning program at two pilot sites this year, with the goal of boosting reading proficiency for all students, including the 95 percent of students who are low-income and/or students of color and/or bilingual.
"With a tight focus on sites we believe are well-prepped for progress," said McKnight board chair Ted Staryk. "During the planning year, these two districts emerged as powerful, valued partners in McKnight's work to improve literacy by third grade. With the support of leadership at all levels, they have demonstrated their commitment to join with McKnight and our community to help close Twin Cities' achievement gaps."