Library Awarded Federal Grant to Develop Project REAL Literacy Program

Tips for Project Real Families

The Library was awarded a U.S. Department of Education Library Research and Demonstration Grant of nearly $200,000 to implement its Project REAL(REading And Learning) program, a library-based community outreach program designed to improve reading skills among children ages 3-8. The grant, one of only five such awarded this year, provides funds that will help the Library build on an existing framework of community partnerships and volunteer efforts to create a reading instruction program and evaluation system that will serve as a model for other libraries throughout the country. The grant will span two years, beginning October 1, 1997.

Project REAL is an outgrowth of the Library’s strong tradition of community service and of providing top-quality youth and family programs for St. Louisans. In conjunction with area organizations such as OASIS , the YMCA’s Y Read Program, the St. Louis Public Schools , the St. Louis Head Start Program, day care centers, churches, and neighborhood residents, the Library will train and organize adult and teen volunteers to work with parents, caregivers, and teachers to help youngsters learn to read or improve their reading skills.

Project REAL will be based at three Library locations--Central Youth Services at the Central Library in downtown St. Louis, the Barr Branch on the city’s near south side, and, when it reopens later this year following extensive renovation, the Divoll Branch in north St. Louis. Both Barr and Divoll have been designated as Youth Services Branches because of their strong emphasis on programs and services for youth and families.

The program will be monitored by evaluators from area universities who are specialists in the field of reading and literacy education. With the help of these advisors, Project REAL coordinators will develop a project manual and other support materials so that the program can serve as a model for other libraries and organizations interested in working to promote reading and literacy skills.

Dr. Leslie Edmonds Holt, Director of Youth Services and Family Literacy for the Library, said, “Project REAL is an exciting opportunity to focus services on young children, their families, and their teachers. This program will bring together the Library, the schools, and home to help children become successful readers and students.”

For more information, call the Youth Services and Family Literacy Department of the Library at 314-539-0382.