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Museums, Libraries Given $4.3 Million to Improve Early-Childhood Education

Twenty museums and libraries in 17 communities around the nation have been awarded $4.3 million in federal grants to implement programs specifically designed to educate the very young.

Such community institutions are key to ensuring that preschoolers—especially those who are poor—get a strong start in school and later avoid the so-called summer slide, said Susan H. Hildreth, the director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the grantmaking agency that vets projects on behalf of the federal government.

The funding comes on the heels of a June survey laying out the specific responsibilities of such institutions in the changing age of technology.

This year's winners showcase just how agile museums and libraries have become.

For example, the Columbus Metropolitan Library will start a home-visitation program for at-risk children to teach pre-reading skills to children and their families.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Public Library is partnering with the local housing authority to help children ages 5-9 develop writing skills through the authoring of comic books.

And the Providence Community Library in Rhode Island aims to reduce the achievement gap between preschoolers who have not had formal education and their peers who have attended such a program by training librarians in the essentials of early-childhood development.

The institute reports that there are 17,500 museums and 123,000 libraries operating in the United States.

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