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Wichita Community Foundation announces $160,000 investment for Impact Literacy

May 10, 2017

Wichita, Kan. – Three Wichita entities will receive a share of $160,000 from the Wichita Community Foundation to further literacy achievements in our city. Impact Literacy, a strategic initiative of WCF, was created to elevate the conversation about academic readiness leading to workforce development and economic growth for the community.

"The overarching outcomes we are hoping to see are more kids reading, as well as heightened adult involvement,” said WCF President and CEO Shelly Prichard. “Stronger readers have increased school performance and higher graduation rates, and ultimately, create a workforce that is prepared to confidently compete in a global environment.”

The selected partners in Impact Literacy will implement their proposed projects, outlined below, during the next 12 months.

Watermark Books & Café is coordinating with the Wichita Police Department to connect with families through book distribution projects, organized discussions, and by reading aloud to citizens.

“Working on Impact Literacy gives Watermark Books a new way to reach out to cultivate new readers outside of the bookstore,” said Sarah Bagby, owner of Watermark Books & Café. “By partnering with the WPD, our collective goal is to build bridges through books and reading.”

Officer Charley Davidson #2101 of the Public Relations Unit said this program, beginning with distributions in June, will work to “break down barriers and build strong community bonds.”

The Wichita Eagle and will dedicate a portion of a reporter’s time to researching issues related to literacy in our community through stories and in-depth projects. The Eagle staff also plans to develop a partnership with an existing local program that offers employees the chance to read to children in schools.

“Grant-funded journalism is new territory for us,” said Steve Coffman, executive editor of The Wichita Eagle and “But such arrangements are being used by respected journalists and organizations across the country to produce top-quality work that impacts communities.”

Solutions Journalism Network will assist the newsroom as it develops plans for the news content associated with Impact Literacy.

“Our goal will be to not only raise awareness, but to help guide our community toward solutions,” Coffman said.

The Wichita Public Library will expand its 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program from 1,000 to 7,500 students, with targeted outreach to populations otherwise not served through the organization’s traditional avenues.

“One of the best ways that adults can help children develop strong early literacy skills is to read with them,” said Cynthia Berner, director of libraries. “1000 Books Before Kindergarten is a fun way to help parents dedicate time to reading, which in turn expands children’s vocabularies and the other skills that make them reading-ready.”

Parents interested in the 1000 Books program can find more information on the Library’s website.

Additional details about the three projects are outlined at Information regarding upcoming events and the promotion of literacy in Wichita will be shared via WCF’s social media channels and on its website.

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