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Major Gift Promotes Early Childhood Literacy in Indianapolis

September 09, 2009

The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Foundation has announced a $1 million gift from The Herbert Simon Family Foundation to expand the Library’s “Ready to Read” early childhood literacy initiative.

“Ready to Read” prepares children under age five for a successful start in school through a series of specialized programs and services. Activities funded by this major gift will help preschoolers develop the basic skills for learning to read.

To enhance a key component of the initiative that focuses on community outreach, entitled “On the Road to Reading,” the gift will allow the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library to quadruple the number of children in licensed, home-based daycare centers who receive book deliveries and listen to story time programs monthly. Nearly 2,600 children each year will be served in up to 260 home daycares. Home daycare providers themselves will learn how to more effectively engage young people in stories and use books to enhance children’s early literacy skills.

The Library also will develop more programming for early learners and their caregivers within branch libraries, provide new child-friendly computers equipped with educational software throughout the library system, dedicate a new early learning website for children and caregivers, and increase staff training and program evaluation.

“We are grateful for The Herbert Simon Family Foundation’s support,” stated Library Foundation President Danny Dean. “A respected community leader, Mr. Simon is also an avid reader. We are honored he chose to share his enthusiasm for reading with the children of Indianapolis through a gift to the Library Foundation,” he added.

Implementation of the newest early literacy efforts will begin in 2010, with installation of related technology continuing in 2011 and 2012.

“I am pleased to partner with the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library on this special project,” said Herbert Simon. “As a book lover, it is gratifying to share my love of reading with our city’s next generation. As a businessman, I know the success of our community is tied to the quality of our workforce. For thousands of children, this gift will cultivate early literacy skills and passion for learning, ultimately preparing them for long-term academic and professional success,” Simon added.

The grant will enable IMCPL to address a top priority in its current five-year strategic plan, “Leading a Learning Community,” which calls for a greater focus on childhood literacy and school readiness.

The Library Foundation continues efforts to seek additional gifts in support of “Ready to Read.” For more information, contact the Library Foundation at 275-4700 or visit http://foundation.imcpl.org