Verizon Awards $20,000 Grant To Roberts Center for Learning and Literacy
LAKELAND, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2008) — Florida Southern College’s Roberts Center for Learning and Literacy has been awarded a $20,000 grant from Verizon to enhance reading instruction for Polk County elementary school students struggling with reading.
Project DREAM, which stands for literacy enrichment for students through the Dynamic, Research-based, Exemplary Achievement Model comprises tutoring for students and training for teachers.
Dr. David Wood, director of the Roberts Center, said, “We are deeply grateful to Verizon for funding this critical initiative. Helping at-risk children overcome reading difficulties could mean the difference between a lifetime of academic success and failure. We welcome Verizon as a partner in our mission to help discouraged young students become successful readers and writers.”
The grant will fund two reading clinics at Lakeland elementary schools for third-grade students with reading challenges. Local schoolteachers, trained by Roberts Center staff in the Orton-Gillingham Reading Method, will tutor the students at no charge. The first clinic will be held in spring 2009 at Crystal Lake Elementary School. The second clinic will be conducted in fall 2009 at a site to be determined later.
In addition, the Roberts Center will be host to a weeklong Orton-Gillingham Training Institute in June 2009. Twenty-five public and private schoolteachers will be trained in the multisensory phonics approach that has been proven most promising for students with dyslexia and other language-processing disorders. Rosalie Davis, associate head of the Schenk School in Atlanta and the nation’s leading expert on the Orton-Gillingham approach, will lead the workshop. She spoke Feb. 26 at FSC as part of the Roberts Center Lecture Series.
“While students who struggle in reading are provided strategies for improvement, many times the educators themselves do not fully understand the nature of the learning differences,” Dr. Wood said. “Providing this opportunity to educators to learn not only how to address learning differences with regard to reading, but also how to recognize them in the first place, constitutes a potentially life-changing opportunity for local teachers.”
Orton Gillingham training is not offered anywhere else in Central Florida. Dr. Wood said it is hoped that the training at FSC can become institutionalized within Polk County and offered in subsequent years.
“Verizon feels that literacy is the gateway to lifelong learning, personal opportunities and success,” said Bill Reid, Verizon’s external affairs director. “That's why improving the literacy skills of children and adults is one of Verizon’s top philanthropic priorities and why in 2007 we invested $10 million to support literacy programs nationwide.
“Making sure that children who are experiencing reading difficulties have access to early interventions is critically important to their future success,” Reid explained. “That’s why Verizon is proud to partner with Florida Southern’s Roberts Learning and Literacy Center to sponsor Project DREAM, a program that will provide specialized reading instruction to Polk County’s most at-risk students while providing local teachers with valuable training to enhance their ability to teach children with learning differences to become successful readers.”
About the Roberts Center for Learning and Literacy