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Grants Available to Study After-School Literacy

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Researchers seeking funds to study after-school and other out-of-school-time programs have one week to submit proposals to the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) for a chance to receive an Edmund A. Stanley, Jr. Research Grant.

The Institute, based at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, is awarding two grants of $25,000 each to support original research or syntheses of existing research or policy analyses of out-of-school-time programs.

Priority will be given to proposals focusing on studies of language and literacy development in out-of-school-time programs and to partnerships between university scholars and folks working with children in out-of-school-time programs who want to do their own research.

NIOST also runs a fellowship program for practitioners in the field who want to study their own programs to develop the most effective strategies for working with children. 

This type of collaboration is "so much more salient than having a researcher looking at it from a mile high," said Ellen Gannett, the director of NIOST. "These are people who are working with young people every day."

One of the current grants, a partnership between University of Pittsburgh psychology professor Tom Akiva and the group Remake Learning, which provides digital learning mentors to out-of-school sites throughout the city, is studying the best methods for teaching digital literacy to teens and tweens.

"They are debating ideas education science has looked at for years," said Akiva in a blog on the group's website. "Will 'discovery-based learning' work in this context? The idea of the project is to remake learning, to shake up teaching. It's interesting to watch them debating methods to provide small amounts of structure that support kids in their learning."

After-school programming has been the primary focus of NIOST since its inception nearly 36 years ago, said Gannett, and literacy has been a long-standing priority of The Robert Bowne Foundation, which funds the grants and the fellowships.  

But this may be one of the last opportunities to seek funding for either program. The Bowne foundation is closing down next month. Before it officially sunsets, Gannett said the foundation is deciding how to spend down its remaining funds and develop a legacy plan, which may include a few more years of the Stanley research grants.

The deadline for this year's applications is Friday, November 14, 2014. 

 

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