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Campus First Book Awarded $500 Grant for Literacy Events

RELEASED: Jan. 12, 2006

First Book logoEAU CLAIRE — The First Book Campus Advisory Board at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Center for Service-Learning received a $500 Verizon First Book grant by Verizon Reads and Youth Service America to support literacy events for recently arrived Hmong immigrant youth. The grant carries a matching $500 book purchase award from First Book.

First Book is a national organization aimed at improving literacy. Every month, the local group gives a new book to children in Western Dairyland Head Start centers, and the Eau Claire Area School District's Reading Partner and Head Start programs at North High School, and Manz and Longfellow elementary schools.

The literacy events will focus on immigration and folk tales, said Donald Mowry, director of the Center for Service-Learning and adviser to the First Book College Advisory Board.

Events will coincide with National Storytelling Week, Jan. 28-Feb. 4; Read Across America Day, March 2; International Children's Book Day, April 2; and National Youth Service Day, April 21-23. The first, third and fourth events will take place at the Hmong Mutual Assistance Association. The second event will be held at the L.E. Phillips Public Library, and will emphasize the public library as a resource for family reading.

Hmong children who are mentored through the Building Bridges Mentoring Program will be invited to the events, along with their mentors and families, Mowry said. Through the Building Bridges program, college students work with recently arrived Hmong children to improve their English skills.

At each event, a story will be read, with translation in Hmong for parents and family members. The children and youth also will receive a book to take home.

"We will stress the value of reading, re-reading, reading to each other, and maintaining a home library or making use of the public library," Mowry said.

The UW-Eau Claire Building Bridges Mentoring Program has 22 participants who have come to this country in the past two years, Mowry said, noting that 13 are in middle-school and nine are in high school.

"The students from the Building Bridges group work really hard and focus a great deal on improving literacy," Mowry said. "Unfortunately many of the children don't have the resources at home to help them."

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JW/JB

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