Grants boost literacy and reading.
From the April, 2019 issue
"Yay! We have lots of reading to do!" announced excited Pittsfield Elementary School teacher Heather Hooppaw. She and fellow teacher Jennifer Wade had just learned they'd won a $500 grant to buy "Reading Adventure" packs for their classes. The popular book packs promote family reading-and many Pittsfield kids come from homes where money is tight. "Thank you so much!" the teachers told former school board member Andy Thomas, who in 2017 surprised the teachers with the news that they'd won a grant from the Karen Thomas Fund.
"It's my favorite part," says Thomas of the congratulatory visits. Thomas established the fund a decade ago to honor his late wife, Karen, a passionate book lover, who, even while battling cancer, read aloud to their son's Burns Park classroom. He's since awarded about $65,000 in grants to improve literacy and encourage reading in elementary schools.
The largest single grant, $5,000, went to Mitchell Elementary during its transition into an International Baccalaureate School in 2015. The gift paid for about 250 books, many in other languages, and "gave us a strong foundation," says school librarian Janet Duncan.
Administered by the Ann Arbor Community Foundation, the fund got twenty-three "outstanding" applications this year, Thomas says. He funded seven, and wishes he could have supported them all. "There wasn't a clunker in the bunch," he says.
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