Union partner in $3.1 million U.S. Department of Education grant

Published on
October 12, 2016

ESU Union College is partnering with the Kentucky Educational Development Corporation on a $3.1 million initiative announced by the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is part of a $26 million program to 29 grantees to develop and improve high-quality literacy programs in high-needs schools.

“We are excited about the opportunity this grant will bring to our member school districts in providing and expanding literacy for young children and increasing student achievement by offering high quality activities,” said Kentucky Educational Development Corporation CEO Nancy Hutchinson.

Hutchinson said the initiative, called Project LINK (Literacy Innovations for Neighborhoods in Kentucky), will leverage technology to “support instructional practice and professional development” through software applications for students. Project LINK will expand early literacy for young children, motivate older children to read and increase student achievement by using school libraries as partners. The initiative will also promote professional development and curriculum strategies for teachers, administrators, university professors and college students entering the teaching profession.

“With recent state and national education agencies pushing for an increased emphasis on stronger, more effective literacy instruction as a means for increasing P-12 college and career readiness success, the Educational Studies Unit’s partnership with KEDC and our local school districts provide an excellent opportunity to engage in innovative thinking and practice”, said Dr. Jason Reeves, Dean of Union’s ESU. Reeves noted that the partnership will allow all stakeholders to see measurable impact through assessment in the forms of increased high school graduation, college admission and graduation as well as workforce entry rates for schools and communities served by the grant.

Reeves led Union’s involvement in the Project LINK literacy grant. He says Union will help the initiative by recruiting professors to promote sustainability and community involvement; recruit college students from the ESU to participate; host a literacy conference; host regional meetings and development trainings for teachers and partner in the development of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development.

“The impact of this grant to change how we prepare current and future generations of teacher leaders to teach, assess, and become creative thinkers through literacy instruction and literacy integration within all content areas is limitless. This grant takes our history of successful collaboration with area P-12 school districts in preparing teachers in a new direction; a direction greatly influenced by the needs of national and international workforces,” Dr. Reeves added.

Union will join Morehead State University, the Kentucky Department of Education, Reading is Fundamental, Collaborative Center for Literacy Development, the Curious Edge, the National Literacy Project and the Southern Regional Education Board. The $3.185 million grant will be administered by the Kentucky Educational Development Corporation and serve the school districts of Owsley, Lee, Wolfe, Lewis, Knox, Barbourville Independent, Pineville Independent and Middlesboro Independent. The program will reach 36 total schools and a population of 12,321 students.

The Project LINK initiative is one of seven grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education through the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program. The KEDC grant is the largest awarded in the state and the second largest award this year by the U.S. Department of Education.

Since 2012, the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program has provided 81 grants to support efforts to improve literacy programming. Learn more about the program by visiting http://www2.ed.gov/programs/innovapproaches-literacy