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Wyoming To Receive Federal Grant For Literacy Improvement

Wyoming Department of Education

The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has announced it will be receiving a federal grant to improve literacy across the state.

The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant from the U.S. Department of Education will provide $8.6 million in the first year. And if the state remains eligible, it could provide more than $43.5 million in funding over the next five years.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said the WDE will put together a comprehensive literacy taskforce, made up of local and state officials and experts, who will develop a statewide literacy plan.

"This group will develop the long-term goals to address our reading needs as a state," she said. "While this work is always important, with COVID shutdowns, we're facing an inevitable learning loss as a result of the school shutdowns."

Shelley Hamel, WDE chief academic officer, said that a statewide plan will be more helpful in the long run for Wyoming students.

"While elements of a literacy plan exist in our state, literacy improvement efforts would be more efficient if they were guided by a comprehensive plan that coordinated literacy service across early childhood education, K-12 education and teacher preparation," Hamel said.

With the funds, the WDE will be giving out at least 16 grants to districts around the state that have struggled with literacy, Hamel said

"Some of the things they can choose to do with their funds will be to create local literacy teams and literacy improvement plans, to purchase evidence-based programs or curriculum..and to hire and train literacy specialists," Hamel said.

The department says it will be releasing applications for the grants in early 2021.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.

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