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Nine School District of Philadelphia Schools Awarded “Good To Great” Grants to Strengthen Early Literacy Programs

Thursday, May 21, 2020

PHILADELPHIA, PA—(May 21, 2020)—The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia has awarded grants to nine School District of Philadelphia elementary schools to strengthen early literacy instruction for students in kindergarten through third grades. These “Good to Great” grants range in size from $4,480 to $50,000. The awards, totaling $250,727, are funded by proceeds from the sale of the Mayor’s boxes at Lincoln Financial Field and the Wells Fargo Center.

The Good to Great program enhances the District’s robust early literacy strategy and supports individual schools in continuously improving their early literacy outcomes through targeted initiatives that meet school-specific needs. Grants are designed to overcome limited resources to help schools tackle challenges faced by specific student populations. The funded initiatives have a particular focus on grade-level reading proficiency by third grade.

“In the current COVID-19 crisis, it's a critical time for early literacy education," said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, President and CEO of The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia. "There's uncertainty about how schools everywhere will respond. These investments in well-planned programs for our schoolchildren will build on the work of Superintendent Hite and his team, helping to keep students at these schools engaged in learning and making continued literacy progress."

More than 20 applications for the grants produced ideas to bolster early literacy using school data, lessons learned and collaboration with different stakeholders.

“For years, The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia has tirelessly advocated to strengthen early literacy instruction for our students, and we could not be more grateful for The Fund, William Penn Foundation and the Mayor’s commitment,” said William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D., superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.

“These grants are even more important as our entire District faces some challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Hite added. “We’re working to see what the road back to returning to school buildings may look like, but we do know that generosity like this will go a long way in helping us provide our students with the best learning and instruction opportunities possible.

The grantees and their projects include:

  • Edward Gideon School: "Making Phonics Fun!" program providing creative materials for teachers to share with kindergarten and first grade students.
  • Eliza B. Kirkbride School: Professional development and coaching to support teachers so that they can improve performance of kindergarten and first grade students in phonics. The goal is to increase phonics scores of kindergarten and first grade students performing below grade level. 
  • Hamilton Disston School: Small group literacy program for students in grades 2 and 3 by providing teachers and students with leveled curricular materials and supplies to create literacy spaces that facilitate learning.
  • Juniata Park Academy: Multimedia phonics program for kindergarten and first grade students involving books and interactive online tools in school and at home. Students will learn and practice phonemic awareness and phonics skills with their teachers, peers and families in engaging ways to continue to build a strong foundation and love of literacy.
  • Solomon Solis-Cohen School: Strengthening breadth of phonics curriculum to raise the number of kindergarten and first grade students meeting reading targets by improving phonemic awareness and phonics instruction.
  • Southwark School: Saturday small group reading program for immigrant students in grades 2 and 3 and their parents.
  • William Cramp School: This project involves providing materials, resources and ongoing training and professional development to teachers, staff, parents and community partners to collaboratively improve phonics instruction and phonemic awareness for kindergarten and first grade students.
  • William Dick School: The grant will improve the success of students in grades 2 and 3 to read at grade level including a more robust balanced literacy program with high-quality resources and equipment.
  • William Rowen School: Strengthening phonics learning for kindergarten and first grade students through a multifaceted approach based upon Wilson Language Training. The grant will provide additional support and practice for struggling students and will create a stronger connection between home and school.

Each school has identified specific outcome goals associated with its project and articulated how those goals will contribute to increases in reading proficiency.

The grant term runs from May 1, 2020 to August 30, 2021.

About The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia

The Fund is a nonprofit connecting the private sector with the School District of Philadelphia. We align investing partners – private foundations, corporations and businesses, community organizations and individual donors – with District leadership to achieve schools’ plans and strategies. There are three pillars to what we do: champion strategic priorities, manage funds and facilitate partnerships. By coordinating these efforts, The Fund helps students in the District succeed and reach their full potential.

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