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Grant helps Public Education Foundation further literacy goals

Fourteen schools are scheduled to implement early childhood literacy programs from The Public Education Foundation over the next three years thanks to a grant from the Engelstad Family Foundation.

The organization received a three-year grant Feb. 13 totaling $1.6 million, according to Hergit Llenas, director of family literacy and parent engagement for the Foundation.

“We have specific benchmarks we plan to reach with each of our programs over the three years,” Llenas said. “Our intent is to open 10 more Family Literacy Program sites at schools and expand the Literacy Liftoff program to four more schools throughout the valley.”

The foundation’s Family Literacy Program emphasizes parent involvement in the early stages of education, Llenas said. It provides English language learning parents with the skills to support and help their child learn.

“Four out of 10 children have at least one immigrant parent,” Llenas said. “Our target is to close the education gap in the early learning stages. Within four years, 83 percent of parents said they feel more comfortable talking to their child’s teacher, and 92 percent of children have increased literacy skills.”

Ellen Stayman, principal at Culley Elementary School, 1200 N. Mallard St., said the foundation stepped in to save the school’s family literacy program about three years ago, which has improved children’s academic performance, attendance, behavior and motivation.

“Last year, more than 150 families were impacted (by the program),” Stayman said. “We’ve helped teach parents how to read with their child, how to help children sound out words and things of that nature. When you increase the literacy level from the parents, it in turn helps the child.

“I feel like when you raise the achievement level for students and parents, it helps the family as a whole and makes that dream of college attainable.”

According to Llenas, the Foundation also plans to expand Literacy Liftoff, a program that helps children get a head start on preparing for school. The program offers five-hour classes at the beginning of August before school starts and continues to provide after-school tutoring through November.

“By learning the basics ahead of time, it’s a chance for them to enter the classroom at a higher level,” Llenas said. “It also helps curb the children’s separation anxiety (from their parents), so they’re academically and emotionally ready to start school.”

In addition, the Foundation’s Reach Out and Read program is set to provide 40,000 children with age-appropriate books at their pediatrician’s office to stress the importance of reading at an early age.

“The child should receive four to five extra books a year through Reach Out and Read,” Llenas said. “It’s a gift to the parents and children to improve their attitude toward reading.”

The foundation is working in collaboration with the Clark County School District to determine which schools have the greatest need for literacy programs.

For more information, visit ccpef.org.

Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at cbelcher@viewnews.com or 702-383-0403.

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