Foundation Awards $2.9 Million for Writing Project

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The DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund has granted the Institute for Literacy Studies $2.9 million to greatly expand its efforts to upgrade the teaching of writing.

The institute, based at Lehman College within the City University of New York, will collaborate with 10 universities and 7 school systems in and around Boston, Berkeley, Calif., Philadelphia, St. Louis, Houston, and Baltimore that make up the Urban Sites Writing Network, according to Joseph Check, director of the Boston Writing Project at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

The network, formed in 1987, is expected to reach more than 5,000 teachers directly and almost 500,000 students indirectly.

It plans to work on developing pedagogical methods to spread writing instruction across the curriculum, formulating more consistent means of measuring progress in writing, and finding ways of using the different languages and cultures of urban students in their writing.

The Urban Sites Network is an outgrowth of the National Writing Project, organized in 1973 and now, with more than 130 sites at colleges and universities nationwide, one of the nation's largest staff-development programs for teachers.

The Institute for Literacy Studies, created in 1984, stemmed from education-outreach programs sponsored by Lehman College, a leader of the National Writing Project.

Besides Lehman College at CUNY and the University of Massachusetts at Boston, other participating higher-education institutions are the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Missouri at St. Louis, Harris-Stowe College in St. Louis, the University of Houston at Clear Lake, Texas Southern University, and four Maryland institutions: Coppin State College, Morgan State University, Towson State University, and the New Community College of Baltimore.

The grant is part of continuing efforts by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund to improve literacy and communication skills nationally, foundation officials say.

Last year, the fund allocated $3 million to its own program, Library Power, to revitalize or create libraries in 100 New York City elementary schools.

This year, the fund awarded planning grants of up to $20,000 each to private organizations in Cambridge, Mass., Rochester, N.Y., Tucson, Ariz., Baltimore, Lafayette, La., Lynn, Mass., Providence, R.I., and Baton Rouge, La., to expand Library Power beyond New York. ---J.W.

Vol. 11, Issue 06, Page 13

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