In 2015, CLiF received a grant from the Canaday Family Charitable Trust to study whether schools that had received a Year of the Book Grant (YOB) were able to sustain their momentum around literacy once the grant ended. CLiF contracted with Evergreen Evaluation and Consulting, Inc. (EEC) to conduct an external evaluation that addressed the following questions:
- How successful have past CLiF Year of the Book schools been in maintaining their momentum after the initial year is over?
- What are the greatest obstacles schools encounter when trying to maintain momentum?
- What lessons can be learned from past schools on ways to maintain sustainability?
- What would be the impact of CLiF offering a relatively small challenge grant and other forms of professional support in Year 2 to help schools maintain momentum?
EEC began the external evaluation in January 2016 by implementing an online survey with representatives from all 20 schools who had completed YOB. After the conclusion of the survey, EEC completed follow-up phone interviews with YOB coordinators. The follow-up phone interviews were completed with the 12 schools that had received YOB during the years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.
EEC and CLiF then co-developed two additional data collection protocols to gather data from the eight schools that had received a YOB grant during the 2014-2015 school year. The eight schools who had received funding during the 2014-2015 school year were also receiving additional financial support from CLiF this academic year (2015-2106). Of the eight schools, four of the schools were in New Hampshire and had received $500 to purchase new books in an effort to help sustain their literacy momentum. The New Hampshire schools would be asked to participate in a focus group discussion at the CLiF Community Literacy Conference. The four additional schools were located in Vermont and received a Challenge Grant from CLiF. The Challenge Grant provided $2,500 in new books and funding to help the building continue their literacy efforts. The schools located in Vermont would participate in a site visit in order to determine whether their literacy momentum had been sustained.
Research confirmed that schools are succeeding in meeting the six goals that help direct the implementation of literacy programming and use of funding for the YOB Grant.
- 92% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that the grant supplemented elementary schools’ existing efforts to create a pro-literacy culture in the school community
- 92% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that the grant encouraged enthusiasm for books among students in preschool-grade 6
- 93% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that the grant inspired students to read and write for pleasure
- 88% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that the grant supported teachers’ literacy curricula and creative integration of literacy into all areas of study
- 94% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that the grant ensured all children have a collection of high-quality books of their own at home
- 78% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that the grant engaged parents and encouraged reading at home
100% of schools strongly or somewhat agreed that, after the grant was completed, the school has a commitment to literacy and students have more enthusiasm for reading and writing. Slight increases were also measured in the other four areas after the grant was completed.
Research also confirmed that CLiF could do more to help schools after the Year of the Book to sustain their momentum.
- 92% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that at least “a minimal amount of literacy activities like those made possible by the grant have continued” in their school
- 52% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that the connection with the public library grew stronger since the end of the grant
- 72% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that“my school community has been able to maintain the positive momentum around literacy created by our participation in the CLiF Year of the Book grant”
Additional research findings are presented in EEC’s infographic. With this knowledge, CLiF will work to have of schools meeting the goals 100%.
CLiF awarded its first YOB grants to three (3) schools in Vermont and three (3) schools in New Hampshire during the 2012-2013 academic year. Since its first year of operation, a total of 20 schools (10 schools in Vermont and 10 schools in New Hampshire) have completed the YOB. The CLiF YOB is currently in its fourth year of operation serving nine schools.
The YOB provides $25,000 of literacy funding, over the course of one academic year, to elementary schools with large concentrations of low income and at risk children. The YOB grant funding includes up to 10 new high-quality children’s books for each student and gives $1,000 worth of books for the school library and $1,000 worth of books for the public library. Throughout the academic year schools may also receive up to $2,000 to fund mini-grants for teachers’ literacy-related projects. The grant programming includes six literacy-related activities conducted throughout the school year.
With this level of choice and creativity, it is no wonder schools feel like this respondent:
“It’s hard to know which [activity] would be the strongest because we really devoted that year to looking at literacy and I think in all of those areas we saw enhanced excitement, engagement and involvement.”
Armed with this information, CLiF will offer sustainability grants for outgoing Year of the Book beginning with the 2015-2016 schools. The grant will be for $1,000 with options for author visits, book giveaways, teacher mini-grants, classroom/library books, or school-wide programs. CLiF will continue to allow schools to design their year to fit their literacy goals, additional initiatives, and successes from the Year of the Book.
CLiF looks forward to implementing this exciting new grant opportunity this fall.