University of Lynchburg has received a $34,714 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help low-income children throughout Lynchburg improve their reading skills. LC is one of only 11 colleges and universities nationwide to receive this federal work study grant.
The Learning through Literacy Early Childhood Education Community Service Program will create a collaborative effort between University of Lynchburg and six community early education centers.
Beginning in January, nine work-study students started providing developmental tutoring with a focus on literacy to children ages two through five at: Lynchburg City Schools Pre-K Program at R.S. Payne Elementary, White Rock Head Start, Mary Bethune Academy, Elizabeth’s Early Learning Center, Rivermont Early Learning Center, and Old Forest Road Head Start.
Work-study students were strategically recruited, selected, trained, placed, monitored, and evaluated by key project personnel, and background checks were conducted prior to acceptance into this program. Dr. Glenn Buck, associate professor of special education at LC, provided 20 hours of training for the program. Dr. Buck has expertise in the areas of early childhood education, developmental screening, and special education. He has served as a consultant and board president to Elizabeth’s Early Learning Center.
This work-study community service project will be replicable for other institutions and organizations in order to strengthen community partnerships and opportunities to advance early childhood education and focus on reducing the literacy-readiness gap.
According to the U. S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, Virginia scored in the lowest third of states on the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Grade 4 reading proficiency standards. Additionally in 2009, the NAEP reading test revealed that 83 percent of children from low-income families failed to reach the reading proficiency level.
The grant was awarded to LC’s Office of Community Involvement (Students Engaged in Responsible Volunteer Experiences) office, headed by Chris Gibbons, who is coordinating the project.