Grant to stock class libraries will be ‘a difference-maker’ for children

A child from a Godfrey-Lee family holds onto a book she received at a recent literacy event

There’s perhaps no better way to inspire students to read than to put good books in their hands. That’s one message of Reading Now Network, and the motivation behind a $15,000 challenge grant from the Guido A. and Elizabeth H. Binda Foundation to enhance elementary classroom libraries.

New books should be on the shelves this fall, said Godfrey-Lee Superintendent Kevin Polston.

Enhancing the district’s classroom libraries was a key recommendation of the Reading Now Network earlier this school year, after a team of literacy experts visited classrooms, met with teachers and reviewed the literacy program at Godfrey Elementary School and the Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center. RNN is a collective effort of superintendents, school boards and school districts throughout West Michigan to improve early literacy and student achievement across all grade levels.

“We are honored that the Binda Foundation and Reading Now Network, in collaboration with Kent ISD, have invested in the students of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools,” Polston said in a press release. “Rich classroom libraries, filled with engaging texts, is a proven strategy to increase literacy achievement. We could not be more excited to do this work alongside our strong partners, to grow the learning of our students.”

The gift was given in honor of Vern Boss, retired superintendent of Kent ISD and a retired trustee of the Binda Foundation. The funds were issued as a challenge grant that calls for the school district to raise $15,000 in matching funds from individuals and community partners. Polston said Godfrey-Lee has already raised the funds.

The grant should be of great benefit to Godfrey-Lee students, said  Kyle Mayer, assistant superintendent for Instructional Services at Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and a member of the Reading Now Network Leadership Team.

“We know that student access to abundant and culturally relevant reading materials is an essential practice in literacy and has been an ongoing focus of Reading Now Network for several years,” Mayer said. “We are so excited and grateful for this support at Godfrey-Lee. It’s going to be a difference-maker for the children. We can’t wait to watch them discover all of the new and interesting reading materials.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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