Heitkamp: State to Receive Big Boost in Federal Funding for ND Reading & AmeriCorps Programs

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Senator Continues to Highlight Importance of Early Childhood Education to Helping Kids Learn & Grow

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today announced that North Dakota has received its first ever competitive AmeriCorps award which will provide almost $800,000 in federal support for proven AmeriCorps programs throughout the state.

North Dakota Reading Corps will receive $189,149 to improve literacy skills for children in Reading Corps programs in Fargo, West Fargo, Jamestown, Bismarck, and Mandan. More than 40 AmeriCorps volunteers will tutor students, and an additional 82 volunteers will be engaged in service activities at the schools. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely than proficient readers to drop out of high school, and these programs aim to helps students become good readers early on.

An additional $600,000 will go to the North Dakota Commission on National and Community Service to fund additional AmeriCorps programs all across the state. Examples of other AmeriCorps programs in North Dakota include Bismarck Youthworks, Lutheran Disaster Response, Fargo YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties, Fort Yates GED Project, the Housing Authority of the City of Grand Forks, and Jamestown South East Education Cooperative.

“Last fall, I joined students in our state participating in Reading Corps, and I saw firsthand how successful this program is at giving our students an opportunity to become excellent readers and setting them on the right path forward at a young age,” said Heitkamp. “This federal funding boost will allow Reading Corps to reach more North Dakota children, so we can continue to have one of the best-educated states in the country. It will also enable critical AmeriCorps programs in our state that support education, housing, disaster response, and so much more to continue operating. All North Dakota children deserve quality early childhood education, and this funding will go a long way in making that a reality. ”

“AmeriCorps members make a powerful impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation of National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps. “Building on North Dakota’s strong tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, AmeriCorps members will improve lives and strengthen communities across the state. While they serve others, AmeriCorps members will also expand opportunity for themselves – gaining skills and experience to jumpstart their careers.  As we mark the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, we salute AmeriCorps members for their dedication, and thank our outstanding partners who make their service possible.”

In December, Heitkamp met with and read to Fargo Pre-K students who were participating in North Dakota Reading Corps. North Dakota Reading Corps, which is coordinated by the South East Education Cooperative, is a regional initiative that combines the people power of AmeriCorps with the science of how children learn to read. After being trained by North Dakota Reading Corps to provide evidence-based literacy interventions to students, AmeriCorps members work part-time during the school day and complete two community service activities outside of the classroom. They commit to working a total number of hours throughout the school year (675 hours or 450 hours).

AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country.

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