Ending Poverty through Education Initiative Provides Reading Program and Classroom Grants to NCW Schools

Classrooms CanCommunity Foundation of NCW and Chelan-Douglas United Way partner through a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grant

The Community Foundation of NCW and Chelan-Douglas United Way have partnered to develop an Ending Poverty through Education initiative that is focusing on improving K-12 reading levels and increasing student engagement in schools across North Central Washington.

Through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CFNCW, and United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties are working with Intermountain AmeriCorps to develop a reading program that will work to achieve 90% of students reading at grade level in 15 of the region’s low income elementary schools. Out of 35 elementary schools in Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties, 29 have greater than 50% of their students on the free and reduced lunch program and 25 schools have less than 70% reading at grade level. Requests for proposals will be sent to schools with the greatest needs, and 15 will be chosen for the program. Each will receive one Reading Corps volunteer that will work with students over the next 4 years to achieve the reading goal. “The Gates Foundation investment of $340,000 to our region will provide the opportunity to advance the reading skills of many more students,” said Alan Walker, Executive Director for United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties. “The Community Foundation and United Way are excited to work closer with area schools and Intermountain AmeriCorps to improve the lives and open doors of opportunity for our youth.”

The grant will also provide funds for CFNCW’s new annual grant program, Classrooms Can!, which will grant $1,000 to 50 K-12 teachers in North Central Washington for entrepreneurial projects in math and science, technology, arts education, literacy, or obesity prevention. Successful projects will excite and engage students, especially the hard to reach learner. “The Gates Foundation grant has allowed us to focus in on an issue that affects all of the communities we serve in North Central Washington.” said Beth Stipe, CFNCW executive director. “Success in life is tied directly to success in school. We hope that this program will help our teachers to reach those kids who are struggling, keep them excited about learning, and ultimately see their reading and achievement in school improve.”

These programs have been funded because of their innovation in providing educational opportunities and increased student engagement in low income schools. According to a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “children who aren’t reading at grade level by the end of third grade are four times as likely to drop out of high school.” CFNCW and the United Way of Chelan-Douglas Counties believe our communities can reduce local poverty through stronger education for our children and greater opportunities for their continued educational success.

Applications for Classrooms Can! grants will be available in February 2013, due April 2013, and awards will be made at the end of the school year with project implementation for the 2013-2014 academic school year

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