State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler on Monday encouraged North Dakota school districts and early childhood care providers to apply for grant funds that will help strengthen the reading, writing and speaking skills of the state’s young people.
A legislative committee last week gave the Department of Public Instruction permission to begin distributing funds from the $43.9 million U.S. Department of Education grant.
School districts and early childhood care providers may apply for a share of the money, which will be distributed over five years. Training sessions on how to fill out grant applications will begin Jan. 14. The application deadline is March 1.
“Children of all ages will benefit from this grant,” Baesler said. “Building literacy skills at a very early age is incredibly important to a child’s development. For a young North Dakotan to reach his or her full potential, it is crucial to have excellent reading, speaking and writing skills.”
More detailed information about the Comprehensive Literacy State Development grant, including information about applying, can be found here.
The grants will be focused on benefiting children living in low-income homes, those with disabilities, children who are homeless or in foster care, and those who are learning English as a second language.
Baesler said the grant will help families improve kindergarten preparation for their children, assist children in becoming proficient readers by the 3rd grade, and aid in meeting students’ expected learning gains. A student’s 3rd grade reading skills are an important indicator of future success in reading, writing and speaking, Baesler said.
The Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Human Services’ children and family services division are implementing the grant, which will benefit children from birth to the 12th grade. NDDPI regulates public schools, while the Department of Human Services regulates early childhood care and education.
“Developing community resources that improve language skills and literacy beginning before children enter preschool has a positive impact – especially when children begin life in disadvantaged situations,” said Chris Jones, executive director of the Department of Human Services.
“Higher literacy is linked to greater educational achievement, employment opportunities and earnings, which greatly improve health, well-being and quality of life,” Jones said.