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Federal Grant to Boost Rural Literacy Program

A nonprofit partnership between Reach Out and Read and the Save the Children has received a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a literacy program in 30 rural schools in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, and South Carolina, according to a recent story by the White Mountain Independent.

The award is part of the DOE's Innovative Approaches to Literacy, which supports programs across the country that aim to develop and improve literacy skills. The rural literacy program will serve nearly 20,000 children by giving children's books to families, providing eBooks and technology to school libraries, and supporting physicians as they teach parents about the importance of reading to young children.

Nationwide, literacy resources are often lacking in rural areas. Many rural libraries in states like Alabama and Missouri have closed or are unable to offer programs and services due to a lack of funding. A 2014 report found that 4-year-olds in several of the most rural states lack access to state-funded preschool programs where they might learn early-literacy skills. 

Some states and nonprofits have attempted to fill the gap for rural students by offering online preschool classes or programs for older students. In Utah, the Waterford Institute received federal money in 2013 to expand an online program for rural preschool students. In Kansas, a state program offers summer and afterschool reading interventions for rural 3rd grade students. The Rural Trust recently announced a new early-literacy program in partnership with several other nonprofits, which will provide resources and support to teachers and communities to boost early literacy skills in 21 rural schools across the country

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