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U.S. Education Department Awards $28 Million to Boost Literacy Skills for Low-Income Students and Help Them Succeed in the 2lst Century Economy

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the award of $28 million for 46 first-time grants that aim to improve literacy skills for students in high-need districts and schools. Funded for the first time under the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) Program, grants are designed to increase student achievement by promoting early literacy for young children and by motivating older children to read.

"Literacy is the key to higher learning and a window to the world," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These grants will develop programs that help students cultivate skills that will boost achievement, carry them through adulthood and prepare them for success in our global economy."

Grantees are located in 21 states and the District of Columbia and are comprised of school districts with at least 25 percent of students from families below the poverty line, nonprofit organizations, and a consortium of these organizations and agencies. In addition to the high-quality literacy activities they will carry out, grantees also will distribute free books to children and their families, efforts which must be based on at least one study that meets the definition of scientifically valid research.

The $28 million announced today represents the first year of funding of these two-year grants. Below are examples of two of this year's IAL grants, one to a school district and one to a national nonprofit organization:

The School District of Polk County in Florida will use its grant to enhance its "Books Bridge" program by expanding family Internet access, extending library hours, and providing outreach to parents about ways to provide engaging and developmentally appropriate literacy activities to use with their children.

Reading is Fundamental (RIF) in Washington, D.C., will use its grant to improve the performance of participating prekindergarten to third grade students in 38 partnering high-need school districts, located across 17 states. RIF's program will focus on improving participating students' performance on early reading assessments, increasing oral language and pre-literacy skills of preschool children, and increasing the percentage of students meeting or exceeding grade-level standards.

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