Early Childhood Literacy Grants

by Gail Sessoms

According to the National Institute for Literacy, the foundation for literacy begins in infancy and requires daily exposure to words, speech, sounds and print. In its publication, Early Beginnings, the institute reports that early skills development are critical in literacy, that preschool performance is a strong indicator of future success in school, and that at least one-third of fourth graders in the United States read poorly. Providers of childhood literacy grants support programs that improve literacy skills for children and their caregivers, thereby improving children's potential for academic success.

CLiF Summer Readers Grant

The Children's Literacy Foundation (CLiF) provides summer reading grants to organizations operating summer programs for children in New Hampshire and Vermont. The foundation does not have a formal application process. Applicants submit a paragraph detailing their program, the children served, how the grant will benefit the children and contact information. The application may be mailed to the foundation or sent via email. The foundation also makes grants of books to rural libraries through its Rural Library Program. CLiF 1536 Loomis Hill Rd. Waterbury Center, VT 05677 802-244-0944 clifonline.org

Ready to Learn Grants, Oregon Community Foundation

The foundation's Ready to Learn grants support early childhood literacy programs through grants for direct service, operating support, capital campaigns and capacity-building. Activities may include parenting education, initiatives for child care quality improvement and early childhood research. Grants also may be used to support information sharing forums. The foundation's Ready to Learn program area includes the Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative and Reading for Healthy Families. Nonprofit organizations, and organizations sponsored by nonprofits, may apply for grants. Oregon Community Foundation 1221 SW Yamhill St., Suite 100 Portland, OR 97205 503-227-6846 oregoncf.org

Target Local Store Grants

Through Target's Community Outreach programs, local Target stores make grants in their communities to support childhood literacy projects. Arts and Early Childhood Reading grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations, public agencies, schools and libraries. Activities may include after-school reading activities and events and book clubs. Applications may be submitted March 1st through April 30th. Applicants are notified of decisions in September. The grant amount is $2,000. Applicants must use Target's online application to apply for grants. Target encourages those with questions to contact local stores or to use the community relations email address (see below). Target Stores 800-440-0680 Community.Relations@target.com. Target.com

National Grant Program, Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy

The foundation provides grants through its National Grant Program to support literacy programs that provide one or more specified instructional literacy activities, including pre-literacy or literacy instruction for children in pre-kindergarten to the third grade. Funds also support intergenerational projects that include parents and children. Applicants must be nonprofit organizations with at least two years of operation prior to submitting a grant application. Applicants download the application and guidelines from the foundation's website. Applications must be mailed to the foundation office by the deadline. Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy 1201 15th Street NW, Suite 420 Washington, DC 20005 202-955-5890 barbarabushfoundation.com

Even Start Family Literacy Program, U.S. Department of Education

The Even Start Grants support family literacy programs that serve low-income families with children up to the age of seven. Funds are made to state education agencies, which then make subgrants to local educational organizations that partner with other community organizations to provide literacy projects in urban and rural areas and to migratory worker families and tribal communities. Family literacy programs help parents to improve their literacy skills so they may help their young children to do the same. U.S. Department of Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education Academic Improvement and Teacher Quality Programs 400 Maryland Ave., SW Washington, DC 20202 202-260-8228 ed.gov

About the Author

Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.

Photo Credits

  • some more reading image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com