Altrusa International Foundation, Inc. and Altrusa International St. Augustine, Inc. has granted $4,000 to benefit the INK! (Investing in Kids), Five Learning Years (FLY) program which provides small group literacy intervention to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students in St Johns County, Fla. The literacy program uses Nemours Brightstart Early Literacy Curriculum to support early identification and treatment for young children at risk for reading failure.
According to Donna Lueders, INK!’s Executive Director, regrettably, 49 percent of students in the County’s 32084 and 32145 zip codes are not meeting many educational standards when given early school readiness screenings.
“With the new grant, students scoring in the bottom 60th percentile will continue to be placed in groups of four to work with experienced FLY teachers twice a week in 30-minute sessions,” said Lueders. “Our goal, with the help of Altrusa, is for these students to be aligned with their peers in reading ability by the end of the funding period in 2021. FLY is designed to improve student results by 100 percent or more, and has closed the literacy gap consistently for five years. We expect to continue these results,” she said.
Lueders will also utilize the funding to assist underprivileged children with literacy help, among those who live in low-income communities or who are on free or reduced lunch in Title I elementary schools. “Our objective is to close the literacy gap, so all students are prepared for the next grade level,” Lueders said.
Altrusa Club members will be participating in the program with volunteers to help teachers and students with school supplies, fundraising events, community assistance opportunities, and social media, as indicated on the organization’s website. Altrusa International of St. Augustine, Inc. was organized in 1959 as an extension of the Altrusa Club of Jacksonville, and Altrusa International which was founded in 1917. “The Club’s mission comes from the word altruism. We practice an unselfish regard for the welfare of others in local communities and throughout the world,” said Eileen Holden, president of Altrusa International St. Augustine.
“We were pleased to learn more about INK! and the FLY program, and granted the recent funds to help children who need to improve their abilities in school as unprepared youngsters. Since Altrusa has been involved with literacy in St. Johns County schools since 2010, local members agreed to support the educational organization’s mission,” she said. “We want to do more for our schools, so Altrusan members met with Donna to discuss what further steps could be taken to support a myriad of literacy challenges.” For more information about Altrusa and membership, visit the web site at www.altrusastaugustine.org.
In addition, INK! participates in several matching campaigns, and applies for multiple grants throughout the year to ensure commitment of FLY and other programs with Northrop Grumman, Marsh Creek Women’s Association, Buckingham Smith Benevolent Association, Dollar General Literacy grant, Wells Fargo, Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, and Flagler Health, to name a few.
“Many underserved students need to make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise to inspire their abilities and compete in a local and worldwide economy. We have learned that students who start behind in school tend to stay behind without proper intervention. Early intervention leads to higher graduation rates and, ultimately, better communities,” said Lueders. INK! provides innovative resources to support academic success for all St. Johns County public schools. The office is located at 1 Christopher St. in St. Augustine.