Wisconsin Bookworms

Planting the Seed of Excitement for Reading at an Early Age

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We’ve been hearing it for years: parents aren’t reading to their children enough.  One 2013 study from the School Library Journal sites that two-thirds of parents don’t read to their children every night.  Another 2016 survey from group Read Aloud 15 Minutes found that half of all parents read aloud to their children on a daily basis, and only 34% of parents read aloud to their children every day.  The list goes on.

The Green Lake Home and Community Education Wisconsin Bookworms project is actively making a difference to bridge this gap.  The program was developed in an effort to provide free books to children who may not otherwise be able to own them.  Wisconsin Bookworms promotes reading by giving preschool children the experience of having someone read to them.  By reading aloud to young children and providing them with free books of their own, these volunteers are providing this critical activity that so many parents are ignoring.  

Filling a Community Need

 

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Reading to young children helps them develop a love of reading along with an enthusiasm for learning.  Children from families with limited incomes may not have the opportunity to own many books.  According to the US Department of Education “some experts believe that for America’s poorest children, the biggest obstacle to literacy is the scarcity of books and appropriate reading material. In many homes, particularly those with adult non­readers, there simply aren’t any books appropriate for young children”.

There is considerable evidence of a relationship between reading regularly to a child and that child’s later reading achievement.  It is based on research indicating that literacy is key to staying in school and out of trouble.  Studies show that parents who are given books and a prescription for reading by their children’s pediatricians are four times more likely to read and share books with their young children.  Children who are read to frequently are nearly twice as likely as other children to show three or more skills associated with emerging literacy.  Wisconsin Bookworms brings together readers, mentors, and children on a regular basis throughout the school year.

This past academic year, Wisconsin Bookworms in Green Lake County provided a set of eight books to 170 three and four year old children in early childhood, Head Start, and 4K programs.  Each month, fifteen volunteers read books to the children, engaged them in a related activity, and gave the child the book to take home to keep, and read at home.  That’s a staggering 1360 books and over 500 volunteer hours reading to children!

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The Green Lake County Area United Fund is proud to have supported the Green Lake Home and Community Education Wisconsin Bookworms program!  To learn more about a Wisconsin Bookworms program in your area visit the main Wisconsin website.  And, if you’re a children’s book enthusiast, check out the 2017-2018 reading list!

 

About the author:  Kristopher Ulrich is the Director of Marketing & Communications at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.  His favorite children’s book is Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.  

Project CURB

Collectively Upgrading, Restoring, and Beautifying our schools.

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According to Forbes, we only get a seven second window to make a first impression before someone makes a judgement.  As humans we instinctively make quick judgements, and then stick with those preconceptions until they are challenged.  This hangs over how we perceive and interact with that which we’ve judged for months or even years!

The average age of an Oshkosh Area School District building is 78 years.  That’s a long time!  An onslaught of images comes to mind when I think of structures of that age, predominantly the beautiful brickwork featured on so many of our schools, but with anything there are pros and cons.  During a community listening session hosted by Oshkosh4Education (O4E), community members indicated that unwelcoming entrances, overgrown foliage, and neglected walkways gave visitors an unfavorable impression of our school district.  

Thanks to these community listening sessions and citywide support from groups like the Oshkosh Area School District (OASD), Oshkosh Area Community Foundation (OACF), Partners at Learning (PALS), community activists, and Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTO) from the schools, Project CURB arose from the marketing arm of O4E under the leadership of Beth Wyman.

Project CURB was announced to the Oshkosh community at large during a launch event on April 27th at Webster Stanley Middle School.  It is a community-driven effort to improve the curb appeal at all public schools, with the mission to collectively upgrade, restore, and beautify our schools.  

What is the end-goal of Project CURB?

On Saturday, September 23rd between 8:00-12:00 every public school in the district will get a makeover, so to speak.  Project CURB will ensure that the exteriors of our schools match the academic excellence taking place inside.  Thousands of volunteers will come together to: paint, update signage, add bike racks, install benches, plant trees, bushes, and flowers, and so much more!

In addition to the physical upgrades to the exteriors of our schools, Project CURB will have long-lasting intrinsic rewards for our community.  Personally, this project will increase home property values, strengthen neighborhoods, and boost community pride.  Economically, this project will help promote Oshkosh as a destination district, and attract new students and families to our schools.

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How can I get involved?

By now you might be saying to yourself, “Self, this is terrific!  How do I get involved?!”  There are three things that you can do to make a substantial impact:

  1. VOLUNTEER – Project CURB needs upwards of 2000 volunteers to make this blitz a successful reality.  Signup here 
  2. DONATE – For those who prefer to volunteer with their wallets, all donations are meaningful!  Project CURB is seeking $200,000 to fund all of their renovations.  Updates for each school have been decided upon by school principals and PTO groups.  Donate here 
  3. SPREAD THE WORD – The success of projects like these depend on people like you sharing your excitement and determination for our shared goals.  Share this blog post on your favorite social media platform like Facebook, send it in an email, or print it out and post it in the office by the water cooler.  Do anything that you can to drive conversations and engagement.  Our students will thank you!

For up-to-date information be sure to follow O4E on Facebook or read more on their website.  If you’d like to talk to someone face-to-face, consider stopping by the O4E booth at the Oshkosh Farmers Market most Saturdays from now through September.  

 
About the author:  Kristopher Ulrich is the Director of Marketing & Communications at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.  He enjoys gardening and landscaping projects, and therefore has signed up as a volunteer for Project CURB at Oshkosh North High School.  

About the interviewee:  Kelly Laux is a small business owner specializing in marketing and design for the food industry.  She is a volunteer for Project CURB and O4E at large.  She has contributed years of volunteer service to our community, including over a decade of service to the Women’s Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

Call the Doctor, We have Scholarship Fever

Little known to the rest of the community, May means scholarship season for the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Our staff, especially Education Coordinator Cheryl Fowler, work at a feverish pace this time of year to coordinate the selection process and the awarding of hundreds of scholarships to students in the Oshkosh area.

This year, the Foundation will award more than 200 scholarships totaling $287,020. Our volunteer committee members have a tough job narrowing down more than 600 applications, all from worthy students with plans to pursue further education. Continue reading Call the Doctor, We have Scholarship Fever

Dedicated to education: Rudoy family continues legacy

Celebrate Education doled out more than $49,000 in grants to our communities’ excellent educators and schools on Monday (3/12/16) during an event attended by nearly 200 people at the Oshkosh Convention Center.

A good portion of these dollars are thanks to the Rudoy family — Continue reading Dedicated to education: Rudoy family continues legacy