Bessie Minor Swift Foundation awards literacy grants in Grand County
The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation, formed by the owners and founder of Swift Communications, awards grants to programs that promote literacy, reading and writing skills as well as programs that focus on the arts, languages and sciences.
Since 2008, more than $300,000 has been awarded to organizations in the communities where Swift Communications conducts business, including Grand County where Swift owns the Sky-Hi News.
This year in Grand County, the Foundation made two awards.
The Friends of Grand County Library will receive a $2,000 grant for a program that focuses on increasing awareness of the importance of reading to preschool children and materials for reading packs, promotion, prizes and supporting supplies. The program’s tagline is “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.” Grand County has limited and expensive preschool, and only 28 percent to 39 percent of area children have preschool experience.
West Grand Elementary School in Kremmling will receive an $800 grant to support parents or caregivers who will meet as part of “Motheread/Fatheread for two hours for eight weeks to gain the skills to read with their children and make connection to the stories. They will eat dinner, build community and then talk children’s books.
The deadline for 2015 grant applications was Feb. 15, and more than 200 applications were received. The Foundation grant criteria calls for detail about how many people will be impacted by the organization’s project and how significant a role the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation will play in the program.
Further, applicants must provide a complete description of the project including objectives and strategies to meet those objectives, explain how the project will be evaluated and submit a budget. Recipients will report on their results and insights from their program once the projects are completed.
This year, applications were of exceptional quality and $67,720 has been awarded to 33 deserving organizations. The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation thanks the many groups that took the time and energy to apply and encourages those that were not selected to submit applications in the future.
Applications will be accepted again starting Jan. 1, 2016 with a deadline of Feb. 15, 2016. For more information, visit the Bessie Minor website at http://www.bessieminorswift.org.
Elsewhere in Colorado
These 2015 Bessie Minor Swift Foundation grants were awarded in other western Colorado communities:
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, $2,625 for “Wild Words,” an after-school nature journaling class engaging at-risk, minority students over eight weeks at four elementary and middle school students in the Roaring Fork School District. This program will serve 50 students in a school district where 40-45 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch and 30 percent of students are English Language Learners.
Raising a Reader Aspen to Parachute, Glenwood Springs, $2,000 for this parent engagement program. The grant will deliver almost 30 parent literacy events (talks and workshops) to build early literacy skills in homes. Focus on low-income or low-education parents, reaching more than 1,000 people in the community.
Roaring Fork Conservancy, Basalt, $2,500 for scholarship funding for nearly 1,000 fifth-graders who will participate in a Crystal Valley Geomorphology Field Trip comparing and contrasting two streams. The field trip was designed by the Roaring Fork Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service and focuses on stream health, sediment load and other pertinent topics.
Edwards Elementary School, $2,000: Edwards Elementary is a dual language school and our funds will purchase the “Soluciones” literacy intervention program for Spanish readers.
Eagle County Schools, $1,472 for an expansion to the “Literacy Tubs” program, which supplies “just right” books to students reading below grade level. Magnetic letters and dry erase boards are included in the tubs along with books. Literacy Tubs: Take Two will respond to the need for students who require significant support, especially at the High School Level.
Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, $1,500: This program is expanding to more than 20 performances reaching 1,000 Mesa County children (six performances occurred last year). Programs are free and held at libraries and in public schools. Total expenses are $6,000 for musicians with some funding for costumes, props, refreshments and study guidebooks. This program incorporates an instrument petting zoo.
Mesa County Libraries, Grand Junction, $3,000: Funding to purchase a book bicycle. Leftover funds will buy accessories and programming supplies for the bicycle and outreach. The Book Bicycle will deliver a wi-fi hotspot, library card creation and checkout programs beyond the walls of their eight locations.
Dos Rios Elementary School
This program will teach field research and inquiry techniques in Earth, Life and Physical Science areas to 90 students. Money will be used for iPad Minis or digital cameras, science books, microscopes, water test kits, subscriptions, etc.
Community Education Outreach
The “Read To Me” program promotes reading to children by parents who reside in a community correctional facility and cannot visit their children. The parent reads a book in front of a video camera, which is then burned onto a DVD. The DVD and book are mailed to their children. Funds are used to buy equipment, books, DVDs and help pay for staff.
RSVP of Weld County
Fifty Weld County retired and senior volunteers assist teachers in 28 schools in nine school districts, assisting students who need help in reading. The volunteers donate 1,500 hours of their time each year. They use pre and post-test logs to measure progress. Funds will be used to purchase books for 300 K-4 students in 28 elementary schools.
The Kaleidoscope Youth Program at Island Grove Village Apartments
Funds are for a free onsite computer lab at Island Grove Village Apartments in Greeley, expanding after-school academic support program with the purchase of an online suite of reading and math software, called i-Ready. This structured program supports development of both language and math skills. Funds will purchase 25 of the 50 licenses they hope to purchase. Island Grove Village Apartments is a low-income multifamily complex.
Funds will be used to purchase tablet devices for programs utilizing QR codes to link to books being read on video. This is a Charter School working with the University of Northern Colorado, and some of these students only hear fluent reading in school. Program is estimated to serve 120 children per year.
Chicago Park Community Charter School
Grass Valley, CA
Funding will improve the library and literacy program at the school. Plans are to purchase a book series on countries of the world for $1,500 along with $1,100 for biographies, science books and an intervention starter kit. The intervention program is an extended school day four days per week to support struggling readers in Grades 1-3.
Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation
Grass Valley, CA
Will purchase 1,000 books for distribution to local families during well-care visits. Books will be provided to parents along with advice about early literacy and their child’s development.
Nevada County Superintendent of Schools (NCSOS)
Nevada City, CA
This pilot program supports students who are falling behind. It will serve 192 children at three sites in a four-week summer program. Participants are in K-5 and are not performing at age level. Funds will buy book bags, books and water bottles. The program will include assessment, project work and parent engagement.
El Dorado County
Bringing Art to Schools (BATS)
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Bringing Art to Schools (BATS) is an existing elementary school art program that brings art appreciation and hands-on art activities to more than 1,960 students, Grades K through 5, in the Lake Tahoe Unified School District (LTUSD). BATS has a staff of nearly 100 volunteer parents, grandparents and other community members who facilitate art lessons in all four elementary schools. Funds will purchase portfolios for use at all of the schools in LTUSD.
Bijou Community Schools
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Funds will purchase library bound Spanish books in the natural sciences that are Common Core aligned. Currently, 306 of 585 Bijou students are in the Two Way Immersion program and they are short of Spanish books for the 66 students in the second grade. It is reported that 65% of students are on a free or reduced-price lunch program.
Bijou Community Schools
South Lake Tahoe, CA
This will purchase two kits ($1,095 each) for units on “Planets and Moons” and “Light Energy” developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science and UCB graduate School of Education as part of the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading program. These will be used to increase science and language literacy in grades 3-5, impacting approximately 265 students largely of low socio-economic status.
Sierra House Elementary PTA
South Lake Tahoe, CA
The Sierra House Growing Dome (SHGD) Program is seeking to promote gardening/agricultural literacy within their school. They are greatly in need of books that will integrate gardening, agricultural sustainability and nutrition into the regular classroom instruction which will complement their focus on gardening and positively impact the community. Funds will be used to purchase 150 books, 20 curriculum books and supplies for garden journals.
Capital Cities Circles Initiative
Carson City, NV
This is a cooperative community effort to elevate people out of poverty by intentionally creating relationships across class lines and empowering people in poverty to chart their own course toward self-sufficiency. These funds will primarily be used to purchase computers for the resource center so that adult students, children and tutors can more readily access online learning programs.
Mark Twain Elementary School
Carson City, NV
This project will use the literacy and music connection as a basis for instruction. It is their goal to improve student achievement in the areas of reading and composition by utilizing Orff Schulwerk practices and instruments in conjunction with children’s literature in the music classroom. Funds will purchase the Game Plan Curriculum book and children’s books for grades 1-5 along with four Xylophones. Mark Twain is a Title 1 school.
Churchill County Library
The Family Reading Program will offer reading and literacy related materials and activities to families in Churchill County. These funds will purchase books, crayons, a cup and bags along with two sets of Legos, a wooden block set, supplies and printing costs and advertising. Materials will be offered in English and Spanish and will be available to the Paiute Shoshone Tribe at the neighboring Reservation.
Friends of Oasis Academy
To mitigate the “Summer Slide,” this organization supports a summer reading program. The program consists of online reading blogs for 200 children in Grades 3-8. Licensed teachers create questions on a novel of their choice and students respond to those questions on a blog. Additionally, they support a six-week tutoring program for students who are below grade level in reading. They have supported this program for the past two summers and the results have been just what they hoped, mitigating the summer slide. The number of students will double, and so they will have increasing costs.
Incline Elementary School
Incline Village, NV
An integral part of elementary education is providing after school programs where students can continue to learn, but also have fun. At STREAM Club students explore science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math, all focused around a water/nature theme in the out of doors.
Northern Nevada Literacy Council
The Northern Nevada Literacy Council (NNLC) plans to build upon last year’s hugely successful Summer Reading Program. NNLC is a school for adult learners taking classes to get their Certificate of High School Equivalency, ESL classes or Citizenship classes. The poverty level in this part of Reno is 61% and the crime rate is 16% higher than other area communities. Seventy percent of the students are Hispanic and 85% of them have children. The Summer Reading program donation will pay for books and instructors so NNLC students and their children experience reading together and activities including science experiments, puzzles, crafts and singing. Funds will pay for instruction, and buy books and backpacks.
Sierra Nevada Journey
Funding will serve up to 800 children and their parents in northern Nevada and Northeastern California with four community-building and educational events called Family STEM Nights (FSN). FSNs invite K-6 students, their parents, and siblings to attend a fun, family-friendly evening, which reinforce STEM concepts learned in the classroom. Each event includes mini challenges, family-based competitive projects and dinner. Approximately 200 people attend each event, and SNJ provides a 39% match.
Boys & Girls Club of the Umpqua Valley (BGCUV)
Will fund books and reward books. Members can choose and read ten different books and then complete a written report on five of them. They will also take a field trip to a local bookstore to ‘purchase’ a used book. Their books are out-of-date and so interest in the program has waned.
Umpqua Community College Foundation
These funds will purchase new furnishings (toddler sofas, area rugs, literacy resources) for “Bessie’s Corner”, the learning hub and imagination center for the three classrooms at the Ford Childhood Enrichment Center as part of the Pre-K Literacy in Action Program. UCC has received previous grants for these spaces from the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation and now those have been “well-loved.” The program serves mostly low-income children of UCC students.
Umpqua Watersheds, Inc.
These funds will be used to expand “Science Friday” on Fridays when children don’t have school at McGovern Elementary School in Winston, OR by adding books, thermometers, hygrometers, barometers, and calculators as part of a climate science component. The program will contribute to science, technology and writing proficiency through development of a “Climate Blog.” An AmeriCorps member helps with course design, and volunteers help as well.
United Community Action Network (UCAN) – Douglas County Head Start
These funds will be used by the Douglas County Head Start Program for a home family literacy program. Parents will learn how to support their children’s learning through reading and other activities. Our funds will help purchase books and other literacy materials to serve at least 100 families.
South Central Resource Conservation & Development (South Central RC&D)
This summer reading program for children 3-12 will purchase books, writing, drawing materials and tokens for attending the weekly summer reading program at the White River Woman’s Club Library. Funds will purchase nonfiction books at multiple levels of reading difficulty focused on local interest topics, writing and drawing items, sketch boards and attendance awards. The town borders the Rosebud Sioux reservation. The library is open two days a week and average 50 visitors per day.
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