NEWS

Mount literacy program receives grant

August 03, 2015
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -

Proud students display their self-published and illustrated books, joined by their Mount Saint Mary College graduate tutors; Mount professors Janine Bixler and Nancy Benfer; John H. Smith Sr. and Wilbur Higgins, representatives of the Anne F. Bourne Memorial Fund; Karen VanHouten Minogue, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan; Senator William Larkin; and William Kaplan, Newburgh business man and philanthropist.

 

Mount Saint Mary College’s Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning was recently awarded a grant from the Anne F. Bourne Memorial Fund of the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan.

Part of a $21,000 commitment through 2015 that includes scholarships for African-Americans from Newburgh attending the Mount, it will be used to purchase teaching materials, children’s books, and a sound system for student presentations.

John H. Smith Sr. and Wilbur Higgins, representatives of the Anne F. Bourne Memorial Fund, and Karen VanHouten Minogue, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, were recognized for their generosity at a recent literacy program at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center. Young students read several pages from their self-published and illustrated books.

“We had a great opportunity with an excellent college right in our community that we could partner with,” explained Smith. “The best thing to lift people up is to get them a better education, and where can you get a better education locally than, in my opinion, Mount Saint Mary College.”

Higgins added, “I’m happy to be helping these kids. You have to have an education to succeed in this world.” He also noted, “Mount students will get the opportunity to work with a very diverse group of children. I’m sure it will help them in their future careers as teachers.”

Minogue said that the Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning “is showing me that literacy begins very, very early. At-risk youth need programs like this, especially during the summer, when they might otherwise be sitting in front of the TV.”

Established in 2012, the collaborative provides tutoring and out-of-school literacy activities for children pre-school to grade 12 with a focus on reading, conversation, and activities. It explores multi-cultural, award-winning books, offers family literacy programs, and more. Each semester about 60 Mount teacher candidates, graduate and undergraduate, help instill a love of reading in local youth as part of their community fieldwork requirement.

The collaborative is spearheaded by Janine Bixler, professor and chair of the Mount’s Division of Education. “The Mount is very grateful to receive this grant and we look forward to continuing to serve our community,” she said. “We’re also grateful to have this beautiful space here at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center,” she said, thanking Sen. William Larkin, businessman and philanthropist William Kaplan, and the Kaplan family.

In addition to Bixler, the Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning is made possible by Mount professors Rebecca Norman, Jane Gangi, and David Gallagher; Nancy Benfer, adjunct Mount professor, a fourth-grade teacher at Bishop Dunn Memorial School, and 2004 Mount graduate, began lending her skills to the collaborative this summer.

Collaborative programs are held in the Armory on Saturday mornings, weekday mornings in the summertime, and weekday afternoons during the fall and spring semesters. Other events, such as Family Literacy Night, are held throughout the year.