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Missouri Humanities Council--Part 2

RANDY STEWART: Today on the KSMU “Sense of Community” series, we’re looking at the Missouri Humanities Council, the services and programs it provides, and the possible impact budget cuts might have. Based in St. Louis, the Humanities Council doesn’t have a huge presence in Southwest Missouri, but they have established a partnership here in Springfield for one of their most important programs. Julie Douglas, Family Programs Director for the Missouri Humanities Council, explains.JULIE DOUGLAS: “Read from the Start” is a program that we’ve actually been doing since 1996, and we do it all over the state. It’s a workshop for parents of children under the age of 5. Our target group is really parents that are low-income, maybe are facing literacy challenges themselves, maybe not reading to their children—or not doing it very regularly. Parents get together with one of our facilitators and they read a selection of children’s books, and they talk about how to bring those books to life for their kids. So instead of just “reading” it, you know, how to read with inflection, and how to do movement, and how to talk to their child about what they’re reading, talk about the illustrations. We also teach parents about different things they can do when they’re finished reading, so maybe doing crafts or music, or something that would extend the story. And the parents get to keep those seven books, take them home and share them with their kids. And they get a lot of good information about brain development and child development; learn about their role as a parent in their child’s early literacy development. And we do anywhere from, oh, 120 to last year we did, I think, 165 programs all over the state, so we’re reaching a lot of families.RANDY: Kathy Pinkley of the Ozarks Literacy Council mentions another program in partnership with the Humanities Council that’s more of a literacy and reading awareness campaign.KATHY PINKLEY: We have another program through them called “Read First,“ which is a very, very recent partnership that we just established with them. We also have the Battlefield Mall, the Library and KY-3, and that’s really a partnership where we try to get the community involved in reading to their children.RANDY: Missouri Humanities Council provides a monetary grant and the books that are passed on to parents.KATHY: They give a grant of $1000 for advertising, any kind of P.R. that we need to do to put on these programs, and they also furnish the books that we give to the children.RANDY: Did the Ozarks Literacy Council approach Missouri Humanities Council, or was it the other way around, in getting these programs set up?KATHY: Our previous Executive Director approached Missouri Humanities (Council) and they told us about the programs.RANDY: Springfield-Greene County Libraries participate in “Read First” and “Read From the Start”, but they are NOT direct partners with Missouri Humanities Council according to Nancee Dahms-Stinson, Youth Services Coordinator for the Springfield-Greene County Library District.NANCEE DAHMS-STINSON: We are primarily partners with the Ozarks Literacy Council—they are the direct recipients of the grant money from the Missouri Humanities Council.RANDY: So you don’t receive direct funding from them?NANCEE: We don’t receive any direct funding from that. But since the Ozarks Literacy Council is a fairly small entity, and of course we are the largest community that’s ever been awarded a “Read First” grant, the Library has much more capacity staff-wise and (in) resources. So we were more than happy to help out with the Ozarks Literacy Council to try to reach more people.RANDY: The Library does a number of other programs and workshops for high-risk families and children. These have been funded by a “Ready to Learn” grant from the federal Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement—but that only lasted through September of 2010; another federal grant through the Missouri Parent Information Resource Center ends in September of this year, says Nancee Dahms-Stinson.NANCEE: We’re doing a lot of brainstorming this year, trying to figure out how we’re going to maintain what we have now, what we’re going to have to let go, what we’re going to have to replace with maybe something with a little less impact. But in order to maintain all that we’re doing right now… I’m not sure how we’re going to be able to do it.RANDY: And that might include “Read First” and “Read From the Start”, if the Missouri Humanities Council were to be unable to fund those programs, says Ozarks Literacy Council Executive Director Kathy Pinkley. But she says they would simply look for funding elsewhere.KATHY: Obviously, if they’re not providing the books, we have to find the funding for the books. But to us, Missouri Humanities Council is just a BONUS, because we’re always looking for donations. We have donors, and we go through the United Way. And so most of our programs, we do have to purchase our own books. So this program IS a blessing; but if there are funding cuts we’ll just go to our donors, or fundraisers, whatever we need to do to provide them.