Library Awarded Prestigious NEH Grant for Children’s Programming

DeKalb County Public Library has been awarded a $50,000 matching grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to expand its programming aimed at young children. The Humanities Access Grant is one of 17 totaling $1.3 million awarded nationwide by NEH in December to “outstanding cultural programs for young people, communities of color and economically disadvantaged populations.”

The DeKalb library system will use the grant to expand its early childhood literacy outreach programming. The funds will allow the system to offer the PRIME TIME Preschool program at four branches between 2018 and 2020. Developed by the Louisiana Endowment of the Humanities in 2011, the program uses trained staff to help prepare low-income preschool children for success in reading and school. Over a six-week period, children 3 to 5 years old and their families are introduced to award-winning books and literacy–based activities that encourage a love of reading and the library. 

Gina Jenkins, the Library’s Youth Service Coordinator, will lead implementation of the PRIME TIME Preschool program. She says the research-based program has a proven track record of success.

“A PRIME TIME Preschool impact study found that children who participate in the program showed gains in factors contributing to school readiness, including a gain of 28% in the number of words correctly recognized from the books read during the six sessions,” she notes.

The DeKalb system already has had success with similar programming. Since 2006, the Library has regularly offered PRIME TIME Family Reading Time at its Chamblee branch and, on occasion, at a few other branches as well. This program, also developed by the Louisiana Endowment of the Humanities, uses similar methods as PRIME TIME Preschool to encourage reading and love of the library among children and their families. However, at the Chamblee branch, the program focuses on elementary-age children whose families speak Spanish as their first language.

The DeKalb Library Foundation will raise the matching $50,000 for the PRIME TIME Preschool grant over the next two years. The Foundation annually raises more than $150,000 from individuals, corporations and grant funders to support DeKalb Library literacy initiatives.

(Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this press release do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.)