Seven Georgia Family Connection Collaboratives Awarded Early Language and Literacy Mini-Grants

Gov. Nathan Deal recently announced grant awards to 48 projects as part of the Early Language and Literacy Mini-Grant Program, a collaborative effort between the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement and the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College. Seven Georgia Family Connection Collaboratives are among those grant recipients:

  • Atlanta Fulton Family Connection
  • Cook County Family Connection
  • Early County Family Connection
  • Hancock County Family Connection
  • Lee County Family Connection—CIS
  • Seminole County Family Connection Collaborative
  • Family Connection & Communities in Schools of Washington County

“The Early Language and Literacy Mini-Grant Program recognizes those leading the way in developing new, engaging programs to advance language and literacy skills for Georgia students,” said Deal. “These grants will provide communities with additional resources to put more students on track to read on grade-level by the third grade.”

The Early Language and Literacy Mini-Grant Program invests in strategic community partnerships that target language and literacy development needs for children from birth to age 8. Each awarded project is a collaborative effort between at least two community-based partners that focuses on one of the four pillars of the Get Georgia Reading Campaign: language nutrition, access, positive learning climate, and teacher preparation and effectiveness. These community partnerships include child care centers, public and private pre-K programs, primary grades of elementary schools, local service agencies and local nonprofit organizations.

Eligible organizations could apply as a single entity and receive between $5,000 and $20,000. They also could apply as multiple entities—allowing them to maximize the scope of their projects and receive between $5,000 and $20,000 for each entity included in the application.

Atlanta Fulton Family Connection

Atlanta Fulton Family Connection and New Calvary Commission for Community Improvement will receive $38,500 to work on a Strong Community Development for Literacy Success project, which will provide parents and children access to healthy foods and environments that support child development and promote literacy success. The program’s mission is to engage 500 families in literacy and health-focused community events.

“I’m elated that we’ve been able to motivate and mobilize such a broad, diverse— and expanding—group of partners to lead the charge in Fulton County as a part of the Get Georgia Reading Campaign,” said Janet Adams, Atlanta-Fulton Family Connection coordinator. “We’re applying the Get Georgia Reading Campaign’s common agenda as we seek to ensure that children and their families have access to the health, education and supportive services necessary to ensure that children are on a pathway to third grade reading proficiency.”

The Collaborative and its partners are hosting healthy cooking classes, nutrition camps and cooking demonstrations, healthy mom outreach events, mother and family counseling sessions, and summer reading sessions. Partners also have begun offering in-school tutoring to help young children overcome reading challenges.

Cook County Family Connection

Cook County Family Connection, CookCounty School System, Cook County Boys and Girls Club will receive $60,000 to work on a project called Cook County Reads. Cook County Reads will unite the community in developing children’s language and literacy skills by organizing monthly partnership meetings, leadership trainings, and stakeholder workshops facilitated by language and literacy experts. Cook County Reads also will employ marketing strategies to educate, inform, and motivate partners around literacy.

“Our Collaborative leaders understand that literacy and language are critical determinants of the health and overall wellness of our community, said Zoe Myers

Cook County Family Connection coordinator. “One of every four babies in Cook County is born to a mother with less than a high-school education, and at least one of every three children is living in poverty with limited access to storybooks that spark literacy, learning, and imagination. Our Collaborative, school system, Boys & Girls Club, and Candy Cane’s Learning Center are developing a hub project through which each partner will reach a specific population. We’re going to implement new systems to begin building a culture of early learning, language, and literacy.”

Early County Family Connection

Early County Family Connection, Early County Schools, and Holy Family Catholic Church will receive $60,000 for their Early Birds Initiative to unite the community in improving early childhood language and literacy.

“Early Birds will support families with children from birth to age 8 develop positive parenting, relationship, and literacy development skills,” said Gwen Houston, Early County Family Connection coordinator. “This grant also will allow us to refresh our skills and focus on Quality Rated day care centers in Early County with a renewed focus on early literacy.”

Hancock County Family Connection—CIS

Hancock County Family Connection—CIS will receive $19,000 to work on its Read, Read, Read to Succeed project. The Collaborative will use the grant to develop a reading lab at Marvin E. Lewis Senior Elementary School to offer literacy resources to kindergarten through third-grade students and for parent-engagement activities.

“Our community is excited about receiving the GOSA mini-grant for early literacy and language,” said Family Connection-Communities in Schools of Hancock County Executive Director Regina Butts. “Nearly 350 students will benefit from a new reading computer base reading program, which will enhance and improve third-grade reading level among students. Many thanks to North Central Health District, which played a crucial role in acquiring this grant.”

Marvin E. Lewis Senior Elementary School Principal Norman Hart said, “We’re excited to receive additional funds to provide support to the boys and girls in this community.”

Lee County Family Connection

Lee County Family Connection, in partnership with Lee County School System, Lee Chamber of Commerce, Lee County Library, and Lee County Retired Educators Association, will receive $100,000 for their Literate Lee project. They’re preparing 3-year-old children from low-income families for success in Pre-K and beyond. The program will target children who are not attending a formalized pre-school program but will be eligible to enroll in a Georgia Pre-K program in fall 2019.

“Our Collaborative is proud to be foundation partner of our Literate Lee program, which serves as our counties Get Georgia Reading Campaign Team,” said Lee County Family Connection Executive Director Patsy Shirley. “According to recent KIDS COUNT data, only 36.3 percent of our eligible low-income 4-year-olds are enrolled in a Pre-K program in Lee County, so we knew our GOSA grant needed to target this very specific population. We’re going to work with low-income 3-year-old children—and their parents and guardians—on a multi-generational approach of school readiness and parent engagement. With such a powerful foundation team, we’re confident that our program will make a positive impact on our community and we look forward to implementing it over the next two years.”

Seminole County Family Connection Collaborative

Seminole County Family Connection Collaborative, in partnership with Donalsonville Hospital’s Women’s Center, will receive $17,933.08 for their Babies to Bookworms project, which will create an educational support group for expecting mothers. The support group will educate expecting mothers on early language exposure for babies, proper nutrition, labor and delivery, and other topics. New mothers also will receive board books, diapers, wipes, and other supplies to help support their children’s development and language and literacy needs.

“Our Collaborative has put forth successful efforts to impact our community through literacy for many years,” said Megan Baldwin, Seminole County Family Connection Collaborative coordinator. “From individual tutoring to large community events, our collaborative efforts to make Seminole county a more literate community have grown and developed over the past decade. We’re excited about the new opportunities ahead that the GOSA grant will provide us to expand our efforts to reach our youngest readers. On behalf of Seminole County Family Connection and our partners, I express our gratitude to GOSA for this grant. We look forward to partnering and collaborating with GOSA and these other wonderful organizations and programs across the state.”

Family Connection & Communities in Schools of Washington County

Family Connection & Communities in Schools of Washington County, Washington County NB & PW Club, and Kangaroo Pouch Child Development Center will receive $19,800 to work on their Washington County Early Language & Literacy (WELL) Project, which will provide language and literacy instruction through evidence-informed skills, knowledge, and resources. The mission is to engage children birth to age 4 in diverse language and literacy opportunities that maximize their potential.

“Our Head Start program provides a print-rich environment to promote early learning skills in language and literacy, said Washington County NB & PW Club Executive/Head Start Director Susie D. Wilcher. “The classroom teachers design daily lesson plans that address our program’s School Readiness Goals, which are aligned with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework and the Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards. This alignment addresses the five early learning domains: approaches to learning; social and emotional development; language and communication and literacy; cognition with mathematics development and scientific reasoning; and perceptual, motor, and physical development. We recognize our parents as being their child’s first and most important teacher and provide them with training and tools to advocate for the future education success of their children.”

Said Deal, “The bright minds of Georgia’s students are the state’s most precious resource and I commend the educators and community partners working to prepare them for future success.”

Download a summary of all Early Language & Literacy Mini-Grant awardees.

Learn more about the Early Language and Literacy Mini-Grant Program.


Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director