State Farm Neighborhood Assist ® 2018

St. Clair County Great Start Collaborative Early Literacy Success Initiative

To instill in each St. Clair County child the habit of reading and the love of literacy.

The most recent state standard assessments of St. Clair County 3rd graders show that more than 50% fall short of expectations for English Language Arts proficiency. This assessment measures reading skill, vocabulary, comprehension, writing and related skills. The county has only one comprehensive early literacy program that is universally available to all families with children ages 0-5: The Imagination Library of St. Clair County. A national report indicates that two-thirds of U.S. children living in poverty do not have a book to call their own. This is an important issue in St. Clair County. The Census reports 23% of county children age 0-5 living in poverty. Nearly 50% of county children under age 6 live below 200% of federal poverty level.

This $25,000 will underwrite the costs of providing 1,000 children with a total of 12,000 age-appropriate books. Moreover, this grant will also help ensure the materials needed to maintain a comprehensive, ongoing marketing and promotional campaign designed to inform and encourage every parent in the county about the Imagination Library. Thanks to the current marketing system, the Imagination Library of St. Clair County has affected more than 8,000 children, an enrollment rate significantly higher than originally forecast when the program began locally in 2012. The program currently has 4,700 children enrolled. St. Clair County has an estimated 10,000 children eligible for Imagination Library books.

1)Creating a repository of books that will be passed to siblings and friends, and become treasured, foundation components of home libraries. The books are also passed on to classrooms, shelters, libraries, waiting rooms, community agencies. 2)Acting as a catalyst to support a network dedicated to early literacy. Partnering with the Great Start Collaborative in this Early Literacy Success Initiative are the United Way of St. Clair County, the seven county public school districts, private childcare programs, the county library system, home visitors, and healthcare professionals. 3)Providing a foundation for educational success. Only 18% of adults in the county over 25 have a bachelor's degree. That compares to 27% statewide and 30% nationally. 4)Creating families that read, and parents who interact more intentionally with their child. Research shows that reading aloud is the single most important activity families can do to help their children prepare for reading and lifelong learning.