The Free Library of Philadelphia has announced a three-year, $3 million grant from the Vanguard Strong Start for Kids Program in support of partnerships with local childcare sites aimed at improving early literacy and language development in low-income communities.
Guided by research showing that parent and caregiver involvement is essential for early literacy, the initiative will provide professional development to childcare staff, create literacy spaces in classrooms, and engage family members to serve as "parent ambassadors." The initiative will launch later this year at twelve childcare sites in high-need neighborhoods, and will add sites over the next three years, with each site to be matched with a neighborhood library in its community.
Childcare sites participating in the effort will bring groups of kids to their neighborhood library for story times and other early-literacy activities, and all participating children will be given library cards. As part of the program, parent ambassadors will reach out to other local families and encourage their participation in the program. In addition, bilingual books and literacy toys will be shared, enabling participating families to create pre-literacy and literacy play opportunities at home.
The initial library sites include Cecil B. Moore, Lillian Marrero, and Logan libraries in North Philadelphia; Kingsessing Library in Southwest Philadelphia; Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library; Whitman Library in South Philadelphia; and Wyoming Library in Feltonville.
"We are thrilled to be able to partner with the Free Library and their network of neighborhood libraries and childcare centers to improve literacy instruction throughout Philadelphia," said Carra Cote-Ackah, director of Vanguard's Community Stewardship program. "Reading is such an integral part of a child's early education, and we're proud to help the Free Library in providing the essential resources children need to spark a lifelong passion for reading and learning."