This week, District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) was chosen as one of two school districts across the country to receive a new multi-million dollar grant from Target to help improve literacy. The grant will be split among six DCPS elementary schools.
The elementary schools – Amidon-Bowen, Bancroft, Davis, Garrison, Orr and Simon – have already received Target library renovations along with this investment in their literacy programs in order to build a culture of reading throughout the schools.
“I am so grateful to Target for making this investment in our schools and our children. Partnerships like these help us to strengthen our schools and continue to grow,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “I truly believe these literacy programs will significantly accelerate student reading achievement in these schools. We know that literacy is the foundation for success and with this grant, we’re truly helping solidify that foundation for our students.”
Improving literacy and reading proficiency is a top goal for DCPS and a key part of the academic plan outlined earlier this year. In the plan, aligned with the Common Core State Standards, all students will receive focused literacy instruction that builds reading proficiency and fosters deep comprehension skills.
“I applaud Target for its investments in our community and in our public schools,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “This gift will go a long way toward expanding literacy resources and coaching in some of our neediest schools, and help us foster a culture of reading and learning in the communities these schools serve.”
Last week, Henderson and Mayor Gray announced a new five-year strategic plan to dramatically improve student outcomes in DC Public Schools. Part of the plan includes focused attention on the 40 lowest-performing schools in the district to raise their proficiency by 40 points. Four of the six schools chosen by Target for literacy grants are within that group.
“Target is proud to partner with the District of Columbia Public Schools to launch a literacy pilot program,” said Laysha Ward, president of community relations for Target. “As a long-time community partner, Target will work closely with the district to provide six D.C. schools with tools and resources to create a positive impact in students’ lives. This initiative is part of Target’s plans to give $1 billion for education by the end of 2015.”
The grant will be managed by the DC Public Education Fund, the independent non-profit organization supporting the innovative work of DCPS through private philanthropy. Funds will be used to hire literacy consultants to help teachers build capacity, improve formative assessments, foster family engagement, and purchase technology and reading materials. Target has generously donated to DCPS in the past, including $100,000 to Smothers Elementary School, support of the annual DCPS Beautification Day, donations to collaborative schools, and regular donations of books for students to take home to their personal libraries.
Principals in the schools who will participate in the pilot were elated to hear about the news.
“Orr Elementary continues to be thankful to Target and moved by their contributions to our school, and their belief in our school community,” said Michelle Edwards, Principal at Orr Elementary School.
“This grant will allow us to staff and develop our teachers which will help our students in their quest toward literacy,” said Adelaide Flamer, principal at Simon Elementary School. “Academic achievement for students is intricately linked to the development of their teachers. Our students will continue to make exponential strides with the assistance of the resources provided by the Target Literacy Grant.”
“Amidon – Bowen is excited about all of the tools and resources that the grant will enable us to use to improve our instructional program and ultimately close the achievement gap,” said Izabela Miller, Principal at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School. “We look forward to using the funds to purchase much needed guided reading materials to support our students in small group literacy instruction.”
“This partnership will open a world of possibilities for all who are a part of Bancroft Elementary School – students, families and staff,” said Zakiya Reid, Principal at Bancroft Elementary School. “Not only will we be able to provide resources and technology directly to our students, we will also be able to provide individualized coaching and support to our teachers in an effort to meet our students’ needs. We are excited to actualize significant reading proficiency gains with our students which, in turn, will have a positive impact on our community as a whole.”
“The Target literacy grant gives us the opportunity to allocate resources to ensure that our students receive the support necessary to develop early reading skills and reading habits, which we know are the key to academic success,” said Maisha Riddlesprigger of Davis Elementary School. “ We are honored to receive this support from Target and DCPS, and this investment in our students is sure to have a measureable impact on them.”
“The Garrison School Community is ecstatic about the possibilities the Target Grant will provide for our students,” said Rembert Seaward Jr., Principal at Garrison Elementary School. “The students and staff of Garrison extend our “thanks” to Target for assisting us in our efforts to bring reading to life.”