Arlington Public Library Wins Grant to Support Early Learning

The Arlington Public Library has received a $49,572 grant to promote early learning among low-income children.  The award is part of a $2.5 million National Leadership Grant program awarded to museums and libraries in 19 communities across the United States.  It aligns the work of the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services with the goals of the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

“Research has shown that low-income students often arrive at kindergarten without the academic and social skills they need to succeed,” said Cary Siegfried, Director of Libraries for the City of Arlington. “Early learning programs can ensure all children are ready to start school and learn to read.”

To encourage early learning locally, the Arlington Public Library will partner with the Arlington Independent School District, the Mansfield Independent School District, the United Way of Tarrant County, and Child Care Associates.

“Education is the great equalizer, and this grant will assist our students in arriving to kindergarten with the skills and backgrounds that will help them succeed. This partnership will enable us to serve many low-income students who otherwise might not receive the same level of school readiness preparation as their peers,” said AISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos.

The project will also identify gaps and needs not being met in the community and will formulate a full action plan that involves all partners working in better coordination. This project is modeled on the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP), which is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and coordinated by the Urban Institute.

“Reading is critical to a child being successful in school, work and life,” said United Way of Tarrant County’s Vice President Marilyn Jones. “Children learn to use language and learn to read from birth through 3rd grade; they read to learn from 4th grade on.   Ensuring our youngest citizens enter school prepared and become strong readers will give them a solid foundation for future learning.”

In December, 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 works 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.

“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 from schools and Head Start to United Way and Boys and Girls Clubs and 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 years and beyond.”

The Campaign, launched in early 2011, is a collaborative effort among foundations, national nonprofits, state 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.