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 Librarys 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 YMCAs 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 citys 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.