September 27, 2012


 IMLS logo Campaign for Grade-Level Reading logo 

IMLS Contact
Giuliana Bullard, 202-653-4799

Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Contact
Phyllis Jordan, 301-656-0348

IMLS Announces $2.5 Million to Support Early Learning

Museums and libraries will address school readiness and summer reading loss

Washington, DC – The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded more than $2.5 million to museums and libraries developing innovative programs to prepare young children for school and to ensure they don't lose ground over the summer. These projects, part of an IMLS initiative to support the goals of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, were among those receiving National Leadership Grants (NLG) announced by IMLS last week.

In December 2011, IMLS announced that it would provide up to $2 million over two years to museums and libraries for projects that further the work of the campaign, which aims to increase the number of low-income children reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Museums and libraries throughout the U.S. answered the call with so many strong proposals that IMLS awarded more than $2.5 million this year and plans to repeat the call again next year.

Despite major public and private investments, more than 80 percent of children in poverty are not reading at grade level by the third grade. This sets children up for failure in the later grades, fueling achievement gaps and dropout rates. Aligning IMLS grants with the goals of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading makes it possible for libraries and museum to stand together with the 124 cities, counties, and towns that have developed plans to improve early literacy and young children's chances for educational, economic, and social success. IMLS plans to broadly disseminate the results of these grants to continue to improve library and museum service nationwide. 

"I am delighted at the response to this effort," said IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth. "The projects we are supporting are as diverse as the communities we will be reaching. They involve a wide range of partners such as schools, Head Start, the United Way, and Boys and Girls Clubs. These initiatives demonstrate the power of libraries and museums as community anchors that can help us reach children early and be a consistent presence throughout the school year and beyond."

A total of $2,557,772 has been awarded to museums and libraries in 19 communities across the United States, including eight that are working with the campaign. Many of the awards involve partnerships at the local, state, and national levels. Dozens of museums, libraries, and community organizations will be engaged in coordinated efforts to act on the latest research and provide opportunities that really make a difference for young children and their parents and caregivers.

"We need to reach these children before they enter kindergarten, and we need to keep them learning through the summer," said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and a senior vice president at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. "Museums and libraries are key partners for our communities."

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, launched in early 2011, is a collaboration among foundations, national nonprofits, states, and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship.

Summary of funded projects:

City of Arlington – Arlington, TX, Amount: $49,572
To encourage early learning, the Arlington Public Library will partner in a planning project with the Arlington Independent School District, the Mansfield Independent School District, the United Way of Tarrant County, and Child Care Associates. The planning team will establish a coordinating body for all partners to inventory current resources, programs, and families currently being served.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library – Charlotte, NC, Amount: $244,452
To encourage early learning, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library will partner with municipal agencies and programs to create the "Read to me, Charlotte" program. The program will be part of a larger community initiative that promotes childhood success through a combination of programs focused on families, health, early care, schools, and community.

Colorado Board of Education – Denver, CO, Amount: $41,146
To encourage early learning, the Colorado State Library will partner with the High Plains Library District, the Aurora Public Library, the Pikes Peak Library District, and the Lake County Public Library to plan for Project SPELL: Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries. The planning team will review existing and new research to create a blueprint of promising practices for libraries working with other agencies to deliver early literacy information and resources to low-income families with young children.

Erie Art Museum – Erie, PA, Amount: $245,348
The Erie Art Museum has partnered with the three largest early childhood providers in Erie County and four social service agencies serving recently resettled refugees to provide children, aged 0-5, with programs to promote school readiness through music and song. The project will train staff at the partner childcare providers and reach parents through an outreach campaign. At the same time, the museum will train refugee women for positions in American daycare where they can promote school readiness through music and song from their diverse cultures.

Franklin Institute – Philadelphia, PA, Amount: $249,534
The Franklin Institute will develop a pre-K version of a program that integrates children's literature and hands-on science activities and promotes student and family engagement in science and literacy. LEAP PreK will be piloted in 10 sites including public libraries, science museums, children's museums, school districts, afterschool providers, and public television, all of which demonstrate access to underserved populations.

City of Houston – Houston, TX, Amount: $250,000
To encourage early learning, the Houston Public Library will partner with the Children's Museum of Houston to establish the "Pop-up Library" program. Designed to reduce summer reading loss in children in Grades K-3 and to involve families in summer reading programs, the Pop-up Library will be a transportable unit that brings library materials, resources and programming into a variety of public spaces.

Idaho Commission for Libraries – Boise, ID, Amount: $250,000
To encourage early learning, the Idaho Commission for Libraries will partner with the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation and Idaho Kids Count on a program titled, "Routes to Reading: Idaho Paves the Way with Access to Print." The project will be designed to significantly increase the number of books shared with young children. "Books in a Bag" kits will be made available at 250 Head Start centers, preschools, childcare centers, and home-based childcare sites. The project team also will create a web-based virtual story time to try and reach families who do not attend story time at the library.

Kansas City Public Library – Kansas City, MO, Amount: $41,935
To encourage early learning, the Kansas City Public Library will partner with The Family Conservancy in a planning project to identify and evaluate existing community programs that support school readiness. The planning team will produce a blueprint for collaboration among early educators, parent support groups, literacy organizations, social services, and others that share a common goal of promoting early language development.

Middle Country Public Library – Centereach, NY, Amount: $450,000
The Middle Country Public Library will work with twenty-eight libraries across seven states to implement and evaluate Family Place Libraries™, a library-based early childhood and family support service model. This program will focus on parents/caregivers as first teachers, will be organized around the developmental needs of the child, and will link library services with other regional and local family support agencies.

Minnesota Children's Museum – Saint Paul, MN, Amount: $50,000
The Minnesota Children's Museum, in partnership with the Saint Paul Library System, the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, the Hennepin County Library System, the Northside Achievement Zone, and the Center for Education and Early Development will target low-income parents of very young children with a mobile communications application and support system to stimulate increased engagement in and support of children's early education and literacy development, leading to increased school readiness.

Museum Association of New York – Troy, NY, Amount: $49,999
The Museum Association of New York, in partnership with the New York Library Association and Museumwise, will explore the feasibility of developing and sustaining a model statewide program in which history museums and libraries collaboratively create traveling exhibits and related programming aimed specifically at young learners and their families.

Richland County Public Library – Columbia, SC, Amount: $50,000
To encourage early learning, the Richland County Public Library will partner in a planning project with the University of South Carolina's Office of Program Evaluation and the Midlands Reading Consortium of the United Way of the Midlands. The planning team will pilot and evaluate Project Summer Stride, which will focus on reducing summer reading loss through effective tutoring, reading programs, and other interventions.

City of Richmond  – Richmond, CA, Amount: $50,000
To further increase digital literacy and access to computers among children and families in Richmond's Iron Triangle neighborhood, the Richmond Public Library and the Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative will lead a planning group that includes community residents, to assess currently available services and resources, identify best practices for achieving higher digital literacy rates in communities, create a plan to identify local needs, and develop an action plan that includes consideration of issues that cannot be resolved with current resources.

City of Richmond – Richmond, VA, Amount: $39,960
To encourage early learning, the Richmond Public Library will partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Richmond, the YMCA of Richmond, and Woodville Day Nursery to develop a plan for working with a variety of community summer programs to combat summer reading loss among third-grade students in the city's Promise Neighborhood.

Saint Louis Science Center – Saint Louis, MO, Amount: $249,815
Science Beyond the Boundaries Early Learning collaborative is a partnership of twenty science centers to share programs, research, and lessons learned. Building on the early learning expertise of five of the partners, all museums will enhance their science and school readiness programs for children aged 0-4. The collaborative will provide individual assistance to museums by linking them to knowledgeable colleagues and helping to customize materials.

City of Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara, CA, Amount: $50,000
To encourage early learning, the Santa Barbara Public Library and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art will plan, pilot, and evaluate the potential for full implementation of a new program called the "Siblings Project." This initiative will promote grade-level reading skills in children age eight and younger by recruiting, training, and encouraging older siblings to read with younger members of families.

Springfield-Greene County Library District – Springfield, MO, Amount: $97,091
To encourage early learning, the Springfield-Greene County Library District will partner with the County Health Department's Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, to train WIC staff and provide new early literacy programs for low-income families. This project will lay the foundation for expanding early literacy programs to additional community social service agencies in the future.

Walters Art Museum – Baltimore, MD, Amount: $50,000
The Walters Art Museum, in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Brain Science Institution and the Department of Cognitive Science, will establish an arts-enriched museum preschool to measure the impact and outcome of an arts integration curriculum on the development of early cognitive skills in children.

Worcester Museum of Natural History (EcoTarium) – Worcester, MA, Amount: $48,920
The EcoTarium will explore the feasibility of expanding its role as a STEM-focused preschool educator. Working with an education professor and the early childhood specialist of the local school district, the museum will undertake a series of planning activities including preparing a demographic research report, reviewing the literature on preschool teaching and learning, scanning the museum's current preschool offerings, developing a preschool advisory panel, developing a STEM-focused early childhood strategic plan, compiling a short list of college/university, and creating a list of criteria to explore the feasibility of developing a learning laboratory.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our grants, policy development, and research helps communities and individuals thrive by providing broad public access to knowledge, cultural heritage, and lifelong learning. To learn more about IMLS, please visit

National Leadership Grants for Libraries