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Grants aim to encourage reading
The Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation received a pleasant surprise during a recent meeting of the Literary Guild of St. Simons Island.

Hoping to garner support for some of its Baby Steps Early Childhood Literacy Initiative programs, the foundation applied for three different grants from the guild, keeping its fingers crossed for at least one.

It worked. All three came through.

"We had been asked to submit three program funding options from our Baby Steps initiative. I thought that if we were fortunate, they might consider one for a grant award from the proceeds of their book sales and other events," said Lee Owen, the foundation's executive director. "When they announced the five awards they were giving out at the meeting, all three of ours were included."

Baby Steps is a community-wide collaboration with a focus on reinforcing the importance of literacy in the early stages of life, from birth to age 5. Grants and donations are some of the most important funding the group receives.

It seemed that many of the guild members present were not only familiar with the program but were also supporters or volunteers.

The first grant from the literary guild, $3,000, will help fund a partnership project between the foundation and College of Coastal Georgia and its early childhood education program. Students in the program will use their knowledge to put together literacy activity kits aimed at pre-school age children in the Glynn County Head Start program.

The college students will gain credit and the young children will get an extra boost in early learning.

The next grant, for $2,000, will help supplant the work with another partner, the Glynn County Health Department. The health department has a Reach Out and Read (ROR) chapter locally - a national program involving over 20,000 pediatric health care providers in over 5,000 locations - to use books as diagnostic tools during infant check-ups.

Care providers use the program as a way to speak with parents about daily reading and literacy activities they can implement in the life of a baby. The family gets to take a book home.

This grant for the local ROR group is to purchase books for an entire year.

A final $3,000 grant will help the foundation and Baby Steps continue to restock their existing reading centers, which are crucial to spreading early literacy initiatives in the community.

Centers are located at FACES Pre-Kindergarten, Head Start, and at Boys and Girls Club satellite centers at both the McIntyre Court and Glynnvilla Housing Authority properties.

The foundation is trying to build a center at the Department of Family and Children Services in Brunswick.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.

For more information

Visit or call Lee Owen at 268-4442.

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