Freeport Family Literacy program gets $25K grant

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FREEPORT — The Greater Freeport Family Literacy Program recently received a $25,000 grant from the Barbara Bush Foundation to support programs that will strengthen literacy among local parents and children.

According to Becky Dyer, director of the Maine Family Literacy Initiative, the foundation has provide nearly $4 million to the Maine Family Literacy Initiative during the past 15 years.

The funds are designed to provide adult, early childhood and intergenerational literacy services to families with at least one adult reading at less than a 12th grade level and at least one child under eight who is at risk for being unprepared to start school. 

“It is not the child that determines the level of poverty in their home,” Dyer said. “They will continue to live in poverty until the parents are better educated.”

The Greater Freeport Family Program combines the services of the Freeport Housing Trust, Freeport Community Services, Freeport Child Care Services, Freeport Rotary, Regional School Unit 5 Recreation and Community Education and Morse Elementary School. All these organizations will work together on comprehensive family literacy programming for low-income and English Language Learner families living in public housing.

Last year, Freeport was awarded a $5,000 planning grant and this year, Dr. Gudi Gill, Freeport’s literacy coordinator, accepted the $25,000 award from Barbara Bush in a June 15 ceremony.

Bob Lyman, executive director of the Freeport Community Center and president of the Freeport Rotary, said the grant will be used for a variety of programs targeting children and parents.

The organizations will use the Read to Succeed program to provide intergenerational activities for parents and children at Village View and for teen mothers at the Community Center, he said. 

Another opportunity for families is one-on-one tutoring in reading and math through the Freeport Housing Trust, Child Care Services, Seeds of Independence and Freeport Library, Lyman said.  

An early childhood literacy program for 12 preschool and kindergarten children will begin this month with a focus on reading skills. The children will meet three times a week for one-hour sessions. 

Other programs focus on children and their parents working together on reading skills throughout the school year and during the evening.

“After this first year, we hope these programs will continue,” Lyman said. “If we continue to identify the need, we can address the issues on our own.”

A total of ten $25,000 grants were awarded this year from applications submitted by libraries, adult education and public schools across the state. An additional two planning grants of $5,000 help communities develop the partnerships and resources needed to implement a family literacy program in 2011.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

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Gudi Gill, program director of the Greater Freeport Family Literacy Program, accepts a $25,000 grant from Barbara Bush at a ceremony in Biddeford on June 15. The grant will be used to help strengthen literacy among parents and children.

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