Every three months, Ann Van Pelt sits down in front of a video camera to read a story to her 10-year-old daughter. Van Pelt is serving a drug-related sentence at the Probation Detention Center, in Zebulon, Ga., and the Little Readers program is one of the few ways she connects to her “princess” while incarcerated.
HeartBound Ministries, which coordinates the literacy program, will continue to bridge the gap that separates incarcerated parents and their children through a $50,000 grant from the Gannett Foundation. The grant, under the foundation's "A Community Thrives" initiative," was one of 12 awarded to nonprofit organizations that aim to improve communities with projects centered around wellness, education, or arts and culture.
Andrea Sheldon, president of HeartBound Ministries, said, she “started crying” and “broke out in chill bumps” when she learned that the Georgia-based nonprofit had received a grant to continue to ensure time in prison is well-served.
But, the good news should not stop there. Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said thousands of dollars are available to nonprofits across the nation to help empower local communities. GrantWatch posts these funding opportunities including grants that address adult or childhood literacy.
About 75,000 children in Georgia have a parent in prison. Those children who experience paternal incarceration between ages 1 and 5 are more likely to be retained in grades K – 3. At least 38 correctional facilities in Georgia have participated in the Little Readers program and book club, reaching more than 4,650 children and 2,400 inmates.
Parents like Van Pelt who participate in the Little Readers program can pick out a shirt to wear, which allows them to feel and appear more comfortable before their children on video. Children, on the other hand, receive not only the DVD, but also a copy of the book being read, a personalized bookmark, literary resources, and other valuable tools to help them connect with their loved one.
Van Pelt, who has been away from her daughter for seven months, said the volunteer efforts of the program has strengthened her faith in humanity.
“To think that people set aside time to help me have a bond with my daughter,” she said. “is just amazing.”
Nonprofits, educators, small businesses, and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants that promote literacy and boost reading and writing skills can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.com. Sign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.
About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch.com