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Literacy Coalition News
May/June 2011


Highlights from Imagination Library Conference - Homecomin' 2011

Hundreds of community leaders from the U.S., Canada and U.K. involved in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library converged in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee on May 14-17th to dream more, learn more, care more and be more at the biennial Homecomin' conference supporting the entertainer's early childhood literacy program.

Dolly Parton presents the first Imagination Library Braille book to Cameron Burkett from McMinnville. Photo by Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press.

Among the presenters were Virginia Carmody, Executive Director of the Literacy Coalition and Frank Ridzi, Ph.D., Program Officer for Community Initiatives, Central New York Community Foundation/Associate Professor, Le Moyne College, on the soon to be released research on the effectiveness of the Imagination Library Program, as implemented here in Syracuse. Research is being conducted by Le Moyne's Center for Urban and Regional Applied Research and also includes Monica R. Sylvia, Ph.D. (Psychology) and Sunita Singh, Ph.D. (Education).

They co-presented on "The Power of Research" panel with Demetrius Glover, Education Director, United Way of Acadiana, and Martha Bryant, Project Director, Picard Center for Child Development, University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In June 2009, United Way of Acadiana launched the Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in support of its commitment to increase Kindergarten readiness among children within its four parish service area. In an effort to determine the impact of the program on children and their families, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Picard Center for Child Development conducted a qualitative research study. Read more »

The conference ended at Dollywood with a special appearance and performance by Dolly Parton, where she announced that the Dollywood Foundation will begin a partnership with American Printing House for the Blind to expand their offerings to include books in Braille. Read more »

NYSED Announces South Literacy Zone Awarded to Syracuse

This current round of New York State Education Department Awards now establishes thirty-seven (37) Literacy Zones across New York State. The Syracuse City School District is proud to say that we are the only entity in the entire state to be the recipient of three (3) awards!

SLZAccording to Kathryn Lent, Coordinator, Adult & Continuing Education, and Valerie Dorfer Facilitator, Syracuse Literacy Zones, Syracuse City School District, "We are very excited to continue the process of strengthening the many existing collaborations within our community and building new ones as we move forward in our efforts to assist families in building literacy skills that will enrich their lives and the neighborhoods in which they live. Our collective commitment to this community initiative and to the people we all serve within these communities will be critical to the success of the North, West, and South Literacy Zones." Learn more »

Mayor Miner Issues Reading Challenge to City Students

By Paul Riede, The Post Standard (June 14, 2011)

Syracuse, NY -- Some 300 college students and recent graduates packed into Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University campus Monday to hear Mayor Stephanie Miner tell them they are "at the forefront of a national action."

That "action" is the Say Yes to Education program and its attempt to turn around the arc of failure in Syracuse's schools. Miner said the failure rates and lack of opportunity in urban schools in Syracuse and across the country are "un-American." The gathering marked the kickoff to a week of training the young people will take to become "enrichment specialists" at the four-week summer program run by Say Yes. While most of the trainees live in the Syracuse area, they represent 46 colleges and universities.

Say Yes

Members of the McKinley Brighton African Dancers performing at the Say Yes Summer Institute Rally at Hendricks Chapel. Dick Blume/The Post-Standard.

The summer camp is expected to draw about 3,000 children aged 7 to 10 from schools in three of the four city quadrants. Schools in the southeastern "Nottingham" quadrant will enter Say Yes in the fall.

During her brief address to the students, Miner announced the "Mayor Miner Summer All-Star Reading Challenge," which will be co-sponsored by the city and the county library system. Children in the Say Yes program who do the most reading during the summer will get prizes (with the help of the Literacy Coalition). The library will help children sign up for library cards to make sure they have ready access to the books they'll need. Read more »

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