Skip to main content

Neighbors of DuPage

Darien Educational Foundation awards two more grants to promote the love of reading

Oct 31, 2016 10:15AM ● By Neighbors Magazines

by David May

Lifelong readers, lifelong learners. Those four words capsulize the objective of grants awarded this fall by the Darien District 61 Educational Foundation to help fund literacy programs at two of the district’s schools.

As every teacher and every parent knows, reading is indeed fundamental. It’s not only an essential lifetime skill, but it also can be a lifelong passion. The foundation is proud to have awarded nearly 20 individual grants for reading-related programs since 2010.

One of the grants for the 2016–2017 school year totaled $7,350 for Eisenhower Junior High to continue and expand its “One Book, One School” program launched last year. The program adapts a highly successful community-focused initiative already being used in schools across the country.

For two semesters, each EJH family will receive a copy of a designated book, encouraging students, family and school staff to read the book together as a community, “discussing, sharing and enjoying.” As the teachers noted in their grant request, in addition to curriculum objectives, there’s another goal: “Creating lifelong readers, inspiring students to read for pleasure, and providing fun and social activities surrounding the book.” The program will also increase interactions between parents, students and teachers, which research has linked to bigger gains in reading achievement.

The second grant awarded $2,150 for Mark DeLay School to acquire a variety of books to launch an Independent Reading Initiative.

As the DeLay teachers said in their grant application, “the more interested and successful a child becomes in reading, the more he or she will continue reading. A positive reading cycle begins. The less a student reads, the smaller the reading progress. The student loses interest and a downward cycle is created.” Quoting reading expert Richard Alligton, the teachers noted that “kids not only need to read a lot, but they need lots of books they can read right at their fingertips. They also need books that entice them, attract them to reading.”

The grant will fund the purchase of a broad selection of books for all the school’s grade levels and different reading levels. Students will have easy access to the books before and after school, in bus lines and at lunch.

Since the Foundation was established in 2010, it has awarded more than $56,000 in teacher grants and direct aid to students. To learn more about the literacy programs funded over the years, visit the “Grants Awarded” section of the Foundation’s website, Also please consider a year-end donation to help advance the Foundation’s mission of supporting educational excellence in Darien District 61.

David May is a member of the Darien District 61 Educational Foundation’s board of directors.