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Center staff holding books outside building
Center staff holding books outside building
Cottage Gardens Resource Center staff Deanelle Thompson (left) and Tiarra Brown (right)

UNC Greensboro’s Center for Housing and Community Studies (CHCS) has been awarded a Dollar Tree Literacy Foundation grant to support an after-school reading enrichment program in Greensboro.

The new program will be part of the CHCS Cottage Gardens Resource Center, a community space that addresses education and health and wellness needs in the Cottage Grove neighborhood.

Just 17% of third-grade students in Cottage Grove read at grade level. Studies show that if a student is not at reading level by the third grade, it becomes increasingly difficult to catch up. Additionally, poor literacy skills have a ripple effect across the life course – approximately 75% of high school dropouts and at least 50% of youth with justice-involvement report some degree of difficulty reading.

The Dollar Tree funding will be used to create a virtual library to supplement the Cottage Gardens Resource Center’s lending library. UNCG will provide 10 Amazon Kindle Fire tablets, which feature a library of 20,000 books, apps, videos, Audible books, music, and other materials.

“Having access to age-appropriate, graduated reading materials is a key part of building literacy,” said Dr. Stephen Sills, principal investigator on the grant, CHCS director, and professor of sociology. “After-school programs like the one at Cottage Gardens are a good venue for literacy programming. By making reading materials easily available and engaging, as well as providing youth a variety of fun reading activities, we are motivating them to read more.”

The program has four primary components:

  • A daily 30-minute “read-a-loud” time led by UNCG student workers
  • One-on-one university and community volunteer reading pals
  • Monthly “readers’ theater” for great comprehension through dramatization of stories
  • Quarterly library fields trips and family literacy events

This fall, Sills and his research team are purchasing books, tablets, and other instructional materials and conducting a benchmark assessment of students’ literacy. In November, the team will begin programming. The program will be monitored and evaluated by UNCG’s Dr. Kenneth Gruber.

The Dollar Tree grant award is part of more than $4 million in grants awarded this fall to nearly 850 nonprofit organizations, libraries, and schools across 46 states.

To learn more about CHCS, visit chcs.uncg.edu. If you are interested in volunteering with the literacy program, please contact Deanelle Thompson via email at dvthompson@uncg.edu.

Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications

 
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