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Literacy Coalition News
July/August 2011


Preliminary Research by Le Moyne Professors on Local "Imagination Library" Efforts Shows Impressive Results

Dr. Fred Pestello, President of Le Moyne College, speaks at the Imagination Library Research Press Conference on August 5th. Photo by Chuck Wainwright.

Syracuse, N.Y. (For Immediate Release): Research conducted on more than 700 families enrolled in Onondaga County's chapter of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (DPIL) showed significant positive results for the program, including the fact that it has a positive effect on family reading regardless of child age, gender, family income, parental education, race, parental nation of birth and primary language. The results of the study were announced at a press conference held Friday, Aug. 5 at Le Moyne College, one of many community partners who are supporting DPIL, which is being administered by the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County.

Joel Delmonico, VP and General Manager, Clear Channel Syracuse, and Chair of the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County. Photo by Chuck Wainwright.

"Even though our involvement with Imagination Library is still very much in the beginning stages, the results of this survey are extremely encouraging," said Virginia Carmody, executive director of the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County. "This research aligns with our Community Literacy Indicators - where we measure the percent of children who are read to daily and the percent of incoming kindergarteners prepared for school. It is critical to school success and graduation rates that children are read to and enter school ready!"

Le Moyne Research Team: Drs. Frank Ridzi, Monica Sylvia and Sunita Singh (missing from photo). Photo by Chuck Wainwright.

Books through Imagination Library were first offered in May 2010 to children under the age of five in two of the neediest zip codes of the city of Syracuse (13203 & 13208), with the goal to sign up 500 children per year. To date approximately 9,677 books have been distributed over the past 14 months to 1,011 children. The research - which was developed by three Le Moyne professors and conducted in the field by students at the College - evaluates the impact of the book distribution part of the program only since the wrap around services were not in place at the time data were collected for this evaluation.

"Le Moyne College is proud to join with others in the community to support the Imagination Library, and these results confirm how vital this program is in its efforts to raise literacy levels within the greater Syracuse community," said Le Moyne President Fred Pestello. "I commend all those who are part of this important effort." Read full press release here »

Free Books to Syracuse Kids Ignite a Love of Reading and Learning

By The Post Standard Editorial Board (August 8, 2011)

Once upon a time, before you were old enough to pay bills, getting mail with your name on it was cause for excitement.

More than 1,000 children who live on Syracuse's North Side experience that anticipation and joy every month when they receive a book through the mail from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and its local partner, the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County.

The age-appropriate books begin arriving at birth (starting with Parton's favorite, "The Little Engine That Could") and keep on coming until age 5 ("Look Out, Kindergarten, Here I Come!"). At the end of the five years, each child will have acquired a personal library of 60 books and, it is hoped, a lifelong love of reading.

The goal of the Imagination Library is to spark a child's interest in learning during the critical early years of her development, and to lay the groundwork for improved academic performance, better high school graduation rates and success throughout life.

With the experience serving two ZIP codes under its belt, the Literacy Coalition's next challenge is figuring out how to expand the Dolly Party Imagination Library to the rest of Syracuse and Onondaga County. The obstacle, as always, is money. Even with support from Parton's Dollywood Foundation, it costs the coalition $30 per child, per year, for a total of $150 over five years.

What can you do? Go to www.onliteracy.org and donate. Get your company to become a sponsor. And here's something that's free but, oh, so valuable: Read to your child today and every day. Read full editorial here »

WCNY to develop $20M headquarters in downtown Syracuse

By James T. Mulder The Post Standard (July 28, 2011)

WCNY will start construction in the next few weeks on a $20 million project to transform an empty warehouse on the edge of downtown Syracuse into its new home that will include a learning center, a concert auditorium, a cafe and other amenities.

WCNY is considered an anchor of revitalization efforts on the near West Side. The move to turn around the run down neighborhood was sparked by the Near Westside Initiative, a nonprofit started with seed money from Syracuse University. The Near Westside Initiative bought the Case Supply building five years ago. ProLiteracy Worldwide, a nonprofit international organization that promotes adult literacy, also is moving into the building. There are also plans to develop apartments in the warehouse.

"This is a game changer," Marilyn Higgins, president of the Near Westside Initiative and an SU vice president, said of WCNY's move. "We are going to have the public broadcasting station of the future in what was once one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States." Read full article »

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