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Libraries, Museums Engage More Learners

Sixteen libraries, nonprofit organizations, and museums have been selected to receive $10,000 grants to provide learners with innovative summer learning experiences online, according to a press release from the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation.

The Chicago-based foundation is providing $150,000 in total funding this summer as part of their fifth annual digital media competition, which promotes 21st Century learning through technology, new media, and other non traditional environments. Since 2004, the MacArthur Foundation has spent more than $100 million on research, projects, and assessments on the impact of digital media use by children and young adults.

Some of the new grant recipients include New York Public Radio, Catholic Social Services, and Colorado State University. The recipients will host events for young people throughout the summer where they will engage and create multimedia through a variety of digital learning experiences.

Online summer learning experiences continue to gain appeal both inside and outside the home, it seems.

On a smaller scale, a short piece out last week on the TakePart website provides a list of seven mobile learning applications that children can use to maintain and sharpen academic skills during the months outside the classroom. A storytelling app called Bookster is said to build children's vocabulary, while a money-counting app called Cash Register can help with math skills, says the piece.

And for more information on outside resources, like libraries and museums, a report published last month by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the federal agency that supports U.S. public libraries and museums, provides helpful recommendations.

The report says libraries and museums are often overlooked resources that can provide great benefits for young learners and lists 10 keys ways these institutions can provide educational opportunities, such as improving students' deeper learning skills in STEM, reducing summer learning loss, promoting digital learning experiences, and helping ready students for the Common Core State Standards.

It also documents examples of some high quality efforts underway around the country like the Utah Museum of Fine Arts' backpacks filled with puzzles and activities that children can check out in Salt Lake City, or the "at-home parties" library staff in Columbus, Ohio, host for immigrant families where they provide reading materials and instruction for how parents can encourage reading in the home.

The Institute provided $2.5 million in grants in 2012 and 2013 for museums and libraries that are using their resources to promote early literacy. The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a collaborative project of various agencies and groups to improve student reading proficiency on a national scale, supported the report.

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