The Idaho Commission for Libraries offers a grant to build the capacity of Idaho public libraries to better prepare preschool children to be successful in school. The Kindergarten Readiness grant provides state funding to help public libraries partner with their local school districts and other community partners to reach children and their families before they enter school.
Libraries play an important role in early childhood success through the expertise of trained librarians, early literacy programs, books, and digital tools that many families can’t afford on their own. Children who start school behind rarely catch up with their peers without costly direct reading intervention. Children who have been exposed to early literacy practices before they enter school are more likely to become successful readers throughout their years of schooling.
Apply for up to $10,000 in grant funds to
Ensure that more Idaho four-year-olds and their families have public library cards to gain access to the tools and resources needed to help children succeed in school, especially for families with limited access to preschool programming or who are not regular library users;
Increase the amount of early literacy activities done in the homes of four-year-olds across the state; and
Increase the number of successful public library, school, and community partnerships that increase third-grade reading proficiency by focusing on pre-kindergarten experiences, especially for underserved children.
At your library. Libraries are trusted, welcoming places where children make discoveries, expand words and knowledge, and connect their natural curiosity to the world. Libraries level the playing field for children of all income levels, providing free and accessible learning opportunities that help prepare young children for school.
However, many families in Idaho, especially those of lower socioeconomic levels, are not accessing books and other learning opportunities from their local library. Behind from the start. Idaho State Department of Education statistics from the fall of 2017 indicate that almost 63% of low-income children (those qualifying for free or reduced lunch) entered kindergarten with less than a proficient level of literacy readiness.
Research shows that children who start behind will stay behind and in many cases, continue to lose ground, making it more likely they will need costly remediation, be retained, or even drop out of school.
It takes a village. Research provides strong evidence of the critical importance of community- or place-based efforts in supporting children’s growth and development, especially in the earliest learning years. Local conditions can have a major impact on whether children succeed, and challenges must be addressed within the context of the community to assure effective solutions are reached. To that end, communities across the nation are coming together to develop plans to address problems and put policy strategies into action.
At the heart of these efforts is an understanding that real change will only be accomplished through broad-based, multi-sector collaboration. Libraries are well-positioned to be integral parts of coordinated efforts, but are too often untapped or disconnected resources in community efforts to support more positive outcomes for families and children.
Librarians are important facilitators of learning: they are anchoring their practices in research and partnering with other community service providers to provide high-quality, informal learning opportunities; and they are creating environments, programs, and experiences that expand and deepen the abilities of our youngest learners, their families, and caregivers. In turn, communities are beginning to recognize that libraries are key components of their early learning infrastructure, and school leaders are recognizing that engaging public and school librarians can improve children’s outcomes in school.
The Idaho Commission for Libraries’ Kindergarten Readiness Grant supports library-led, community-based efforts to:
Increase high-quality early learning experiences
Increase access to library services (books, materials, and digital resources) for underserved children and their families
Engage and support families as their child’s first teacher
Create multi-level approaches that advance third-grade reading proficiency and promote kindergarten readiness
Address the Summer Slide
Link digital technology to learning
Leverage community partnerships
Add capacity to early learning networks
There are many exciting projects, partnerships, models, and best practices currently taking place in communities nationwide (see Resources and Examples below). Whether you are building on existing early learning partnerships, or thinking of new ways to collaborate to serve your preschool families, this grant funding will support high-quality, innovative, and impactful projects that increase the number of children entering kindergarten ready to learn.
Only Idaho public libraries may apply. Applications will be ranked by the applicants’ responses to the weighted grant application questions and include: the needs of the community, the strength of the partnerships and commitment to carry out the grant plan, the initial plan to reach four-year-olds in the library’s service area, especially underserved children, ability to measure the project’s success/impact, and budget description. The ranking committee may also take into consideration the geographical distribution across the state. Please see application packet under Grant Application for more details.
Libraries that received a Kindergarten Readiness grant in 2018 through 2021 are eligible to re-apply for up to half the funds awarded previously. Previously-funded libraries will fill out a separate application. See “Grant Application” below.
Grant Requirements 2021-2022
Grant period: September 15, 2021 – June 1, 2022
Goals: Grant projects must meet the program goals, listed above.
Training and Support: Library staff and partners will be required to attend a webinar to review grant requirements and share information about project plans with other grant recipients (date to be determined). If you can’t attend the live webinar, viewing the recorded version is required. An ICfL consultant will also be assigned to provide assistance and technical support throughout the grant cycle.
Documentation: Complete an interim report and a final report
Programs focused on kindergarten readiness for four-year-olds that provide blended learning opportunities (i.e. time to socialize with peers, hands-on learning opportunities, and introductions to digital learning tools)
Parent/caregiver workshops: Designed by library, or use of trademarked workshops, such as Ready! for Kindergarten™
Outreach events; taking early literacy programming to where young children and their families gather
Virtual events; providing early literacy programming or parent/caregiver workshops in an online format
Consumable educational materials for families to use at home to build early learning skills
Educational materials that can be checked out for home or daycare use, to build early learning skills
Devices and mobile hot spots for families to check out, in order to access early learning resources externally
Dedicated children’s computers for the library to facilitate early learning resources internally
Waiving overdue fines for children (not to exceed 25% of grant award)
Non-resident library card fees
Library card materials
Public Relations materials; Facebook marketing
Personnel, especially native Spanish-speakers, for programs and outreach
Parent and family events (noting that food is not an allowable expense)
Summer reading/out-of-school reading support
Community audits/needs assessment or surveying parents of preschoolers
Translation of materials/signage into other languages
Other materials and/or services that will support your community plan to increase early literacy
Grant funds spent on personnel cannot be used to fulfill regular institution salary costs. Personnel will be required to document time spent working on the grant project to verify that costs are true, accurate and not double-billed to the grant and normal operational costs.
No more than 25% of the grant funds can be spent to waive overdue fines for children.
Grant funds cannot be spent on construction or other capital improvements.
Online Application, 2021-2022 (Open June 15, 2021 – August 31, 2021)
Libraries that received a K Ready grant anytime in 2018 through 2021 and are seeking continued funding may re-apply for up to half the original awarded amount. Please fill out a separate application, below:
June 15 – August 31: Grant application open
September 14: Grant applicants notified about their status via email
September (TBD): Grant recipients attend webinar, grant funds distributed to library
September 15: Grant period begins
January 17: Interim report due
June 1: All funds must be spent, Final reports due