BENNINGTON >> Bennington Elementary has been named one of nine schools in Vermont and New Hampshire to receive a grant from the Children's Literacy Foundation.
The Year of the Book grant is worth $25,000, and will be used to fund literacy programs within the school. The other Vermont schools to receive the grant are the Marlboro School, Waits River Valley School in East Corinth, Richford Elementary School, and Williamstown Elementary School. The grant is for the 2016-2017 school year.
The Bennington School District Board approved the grant on Wednesday, after a presentation from Bennington Elementary librarian Nicky Forest, who co-wrote the grant request along with AmeriCorps VISTA Rory Price.
"The greatest thing about this grant," said Forest, "and the reason I really wanted to apply for it, was that they provide us with $25,000 worth of children's literacy programs, support, and brand new books over the course of our entire school year." She said the foundation provides five goals for Year of the Book: "They want to create a culture of literacy, they want to help us create enthusiasm for reading and writing, involve parents and caregivers (all of the events we have over this next year will be inviting all the parents, homeschooled students, and as many pre-schoolers as we can to get the free books and participate in our programming), to support our school staff in all of their reading and writing goals for their classroom, and to ensure that our students have access to high-quality and age-appropriate print materials at home.
The grant will provide up to 10 free books per student, up to 2,000 books, over the next year. In addition, the Bennington Free Library, as a partner in the grant, will receive $1,000 in free books, and children will be encouraged to get library cards. The Bennington Elementary Library will also receive $1,000 in free books, and will be able to choose the books themselves. Outside presenters will be invited to the school to speak on literacy-related topics, and creative projects and opportunities will be available to students. Forest said that the foundation will be handling finding authors to speak at the school, and covering any costs associated. "If there's something we have to pay out of pocket, they reimburse us on a bi-monthly," she said.
Forest thanked all of those who had helped with the process, including Bennington Elementary staff, Jim Trimarchi of the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union assistant superintendent Donna Leep.
"We look forward to working with nine new schools who, in their applications, demonstrated great need and enthusiasm for CLiF's support. Because these schools are diverse in size, need, and location, we are able to improve our understanding of how to best to support communities in making reading and writing fun for students of all ages, parents, and community partners," said CLIF program director Meredith Scott.
CLIF is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1998. To learn more about the organization, you can visit their website at clifonline.org.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.