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Literacy Coalition News
September/October 2011


RFP for Round Two of Literacy Champion Grants Announced!

Kim Taylor, Literacy Program Coordinator for the Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s Animal ABCs program, exhibits a snake to children at White Branch Library, funded under Round One of the Literacy Champion Grant Program. (Photo credit: Amelia Bemish)

Due to the success of last year's Literacy Champion Grant Program, another RFP is being issued to further support family literacy programming. Thanks to the support of the Central New York Community Foundation, the grants will enhance the Imagination Library program on Syracuse’s Northside, the centerpiece of the Literacy Coalition’s kindergarten readiness strategy. Having completed its first year since launching, the program has now enrolled 1,158 children and distributed 13,110 age-appropriate books directly to the homes of children birth to age 5 in the SCSD’s first New York State Literacy Zone, of which Syracuse now has three.

The deadline for grant application submission is December 2, 2011 at 4pm. To learn more, go to the grants section of the Literacy Coalition’s website at www.onliteracy.org for instructions and application form.

The following is also an excerpt from the Central New York Community Foundation’s 2011 Annual Report-Reach for the Stars:

On a sunny Saturday morning in the middle of June, it is somewhat unexpected to see a large crowd of children willingly gathered at the local library. But that is exactly what was happening at White Branch Library in Syracuse. Young children gathered on the floor with their parents to experience a unique interaction between live zoo animals and children’s books. When the live snakes were presented to the children after the reading portion, their eyes lit up and they bubbled with excitement.

Animal ABCs, a year-long program of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, is designed to capitalize on children’s innate curiosity about animals and nature to generate excitement about reading. By sparking the imaginations of young children, these programs are igniting a life-long love of reading among all involved. Click here to read more.

Highlights of National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week

In celebration of this year’s National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, the Literacy Coalition co-hosted a press event with Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse (LVGS) at St. Lucy’s, followed by the Annual LVGS Tutor and Student Recognition Event and Pot Luck Supper.

The week is designed to "raise awareness of adult education and family literacy, assist adult learners in need of literacy services and support increased access to adult education and family literacy programs." Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Minor also issued a joint proclamation declaring this week Adult Education and Family Literacy Week in the County and City.

Among those being recognized by LVGS was Rena Chambers as student of the year. Nominated by her tutor, Debbie Mann of Liverpool, she's seen Chambers push on week after week through the difficult work of learning to read and write. Read more about her touching story below by Post-Standard reporter, Maureen Nolan:

With a little help, Syracuse woman attains lifelong goal - literacy

By Maureen Nolan / The Post-Standard (October 12, 2011)
It took decades for Rena Chambers to move past the obstacles, exterior and interior, for something she'd longed to attain. "I been wanting to do it but I was kind of scared and nervous. And ashamed, really. Really mostly ashamed, " she said.
The shame is gone now, replaced by pride. At 50, Chambers is learning to read and write and has come far enough to read a simple book to her grandchildren. They were her motivation to enroll in an adult education class at the Equal Opportunity Center a year ago and then sign up for tutoring with Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse. When her grandchildren asks her for help with her homework, she wants to be able to oblige. Click to read full article.

Near Westside Profiles: Alvenas Bell enjoying neighborhood as first-time homeowner

Alvenas Bell grew up with illiterate parents in Florida, then moved to Syracuse with her son who was 5. She lived for years in the James Geddes housing project as she worked her way up from a warehouse job to senior customer service rep at ProLiteracy. From her new house, at 404 Tioga St., she has a view of her old housing project. (Mike Greenlar / The Post-Standard)

By Kayla Rice/ The Post-Standard (September 16, 2011)

Alvenas Bell sees her past framed by her living room window on Syracuse's Near Westside.

She can see a large, brick building that is part of the James Geddes public housing project from her newly renovated one-family home on Tioga Street. She lived in the complex for 18 of the hardest years of her life.

Recently, Bell became a homeowner for the first time. She bought the two-story house from Home HeadQuarters, a nonprofit agency that rehabilitates housing in Syracuse, in August 2010. The agency's website notes that the home's exterior and interior were completely renovated. The work included a new roof, kitchen, bathroom, energy efficient heating, second-floor laundry and other improvements.

Moving into her own home was the latest step on a long journey for Bell. Click here to read full article.

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