Sparking Early Literacy Growth grant created to improve literacy for West Virginia children

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Woman reading a book to children

To improve literacy levels in children that may have been offset by the COVID-19 pandemic, the W. Va. Public Education Collaborative (WVPEC) has partnered with the W. Va. Department of Education (WVDE) and have created the Sparking Early Literacy Growth grant to do so. This project has also been sponsored by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The groups’ supporting claim for why they are presenting this project is that “56 percent of third graders did not receive a score of ‘proficient’ or above on the most recent W. Va. General Assessment.” The West Virginia General Assessment is given to students in grades 3-8 at the end of the school year to measure their performance on specific criteria chosen by the WVDE in the areas in English and Mathematics.

Grades 5 through 8 are also tested in the area of science.
As told by their informational document, “the purpose of this Request for Proposals is to solicit innovative ideas, initiatives, and interventions to support the early literacy growth of West Virginia children Birth to Age 8 in high-need schools and student populations.” The projects presented must agree with at least one of the areas of focus that they have set in place: School Readiness, Instructional Practices and Innovations, and Extended Learning. They must also be targeted toward the high-risk populations of these learners. These groups are as follows, “children and communities in poverty, children in foster care, children in the custody/care of grandparents or other extended family members, children identified as homeless, children with special learning needs, children experiencing trauma and behavioral challenges, children who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and children who are reading and writing below grade level.” The potential amount funded for each project can be up to $50,000.

Once a proposal has been submitted, it then goes to the selection committee for the grant. WLU’s own Angela Curfman, assistant professor of teacher education, was invited to be a member. One responsibility that Curfman and her fellow committee members have is to assist in evaluating the submissions that are flowing in from all over the state. This task is done using a “Qualtrics” form and criteria from the Request for Proposal sheet. Curfman commented, “As a committed advocate of literacy, I was honored to be asked and to be among various state leaders with expertise in early literacy… To review numerous innovative proposals, it was inspiring to see so many groups and organizations that are passionate and dedicated to promoting early literacy across our state.” She also stated that the committee worked through the month of March to find the winners. They will be announced on April 15, 2021.

More information about the proposal can be found at the initiative’s website. Alternatively, email the author, Emma Beatty, at [email protected], or Angela Curfman at [email protected]