According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2013 policy report: The First Eight Years, "By the time a child in a very low-income family reaches age four, she will have heard only two words for every seven that a child in a higher-income family has heard. By the time children in families with very low incomes enter kindergarten, they are 12 to 14 months behind in language and pre-reading skills compared with children in higher-income families..." In order to address the need of these at risk children, our Laramie County Library has created the First Steps: Early Literacy program. They recently hired a full-time employee who will connect with community partners in order to identify families with babies and toddlers who may be at risk. Once families are identified she will make regular visits to the home engaging with the children while providing items to stimulate learning, such as books, puzzles and games. Most importantly she will provide children a book with each visit, growing a library in a home that may have no other books. In addition, "learning spots" will be created at strategic locations throughout our community (doctor's offices, City/County Health Unit, etc.). Our club raised funds to assist with the start up costs of this program and we plan to stay involved by assisting with the purchase of books on an on-going basis. In addition, we are exploring other ways to support the program such as by processing the books that will be given to the children so that they are identified as First Steps books or perhaps by cleaning and/or restocking the Learning Spot locations around town. The volunteer needs will be defined by the supervisor of the First Steps program.
Our club would sponsor a reading/book distribution site and help the library maintain it which would include stocking books, location supervision and help transfer books as needed
Our donation is being made to the county library for distribution. They are in the process of raising $200,000 and when they have the funds secured, they will purchase books as needed Laramie County Library has already begun publicizing our Rotary name as a sponsor verbally and in publications. They came to the event we put on in November to raise the $4,500 and were very supportive at the event. Board members from the library were in attendance as well. The collaboration has been a good process for not only the library but raising awareness of the Sunrise Rotary Club's existence and our gift!
We will certainly get a receipt from the donation to the program but it probably will not list specific books purchased with our gift. Please know that the process of purchasing books will be on going for 3 -5 years as books are purchased as needed. This enables the library to get books but with lack of storage, allows them to process immediately. It will be a long term collaboration with the library and many years of Rotary name recognition throughout the community.