The Children’s Literacy Foundation’s At-Risk program supports children in Vermont and New Hampshire who are at increased risk of growing up with low literacy skills. The program provides equitable access to inspiring literacy resources and high-quality reading materials to children in both states who might otherwise go without. We are accepting applications for CLiF’s Spring 2023 At-Risk program through Friday, Dec. 16.
“CLiF’s At-Risk Program was started in 2000 to reach those children who are at high risk of growing up with low literacy skills, wherever they may be,” CLiF Executive Director Duncan McDougall said. “Since then, we have worked with thousands of children and families across New Hampshire and Vermont.”
Among the many risk factors that can impact literacy skills are growing up in a low-income household or community; growing up with a lack of literacy resources in the home; having limited proficiency in spoken and/or written English; and having a medical diagnosis linked to difficulties with reading or writing.
The At-Risk program partners with organizations including after-school programs, early childhood education programs, parent-child centers, affordable housing sites, shelters, community centers, Head Start programs, refugee and immigrant service agencies, English Language Learner classrooms, and many more.
At each At-Risk event, a professional CLiF presenter gives an engaging storytelling performance, followed by a book giveaway where every child in attendance picks out two new books to take home. CLiF also provides each partnering location with an onsite library, giving kids additional access to high-quality books, as well as an optional parent seminar to support caregivers who may not have strong literacy skills or be fluent English speakers.
The program seeks to alleviate some of the challenges faced by many children and families CLiF serves by removing common barriers to access.
“Many of our children in the program live in households where money is very tight. Extra expenses for such things as books is not always an option,” one program coordinator told CLiF. “With this event the children get two brand new books that they get to choose, and most of the kids cannot wait to go home and read them.”
Another program coordinator shared how the program benefitted refugee families new to the community.
“Recently resettled refugee children and families have very limited resources and buying something as simple as books can be the last thing on their mind,” she told CLiF. “It takes a lot of time and resources for refugee families to make trips to the library or even know that it exists when one is new in a community. Children were beyond happy when they were told they could choose books to take home and they were theirs to keep.”
CLiF’s At-Risk program is available to social service providers, school-based programs and community groups located in Vermont or New Hampshire that serve children between the ages of zero and 12 years. At least 35 percent of the children served by the organization must qualify for free or reduced lunch, reduced program tuition or a scholarship, and coordinators should be able to assemble at least 30 children for a storytelling event. CLiF is always seeking to expand our programming to new partners.
“As our network of partners continues to grow, we encourage any organization serving children and families across Vermont and New Hampshire to examine our criteria and apply for this free literacy grant,” CLiF Program Manager Jana Brown said. “In addition to serving hundreds of children each year, this program also helps our partners to build and sustain momentum around literacy.”
Unlike many non-profits, CLiF does not receive any state or federal funding. Our programs are entirely funded by community support. For information about sponsoring a CLiF program, hosting a book drive, and other ways to help, please click here.