First Steps awarded four grants to support early reading

Since the first of the year, Berkeley County First Steps has received $6,100 from three companies and foundations to sustain and expand its early literacy and language development programs. The funds will benefit the Dollywood Imagination Library and Berkeley County Early Readers Fund.

The Build a Bear Workshop Foundation contributed the largest grant – $5000 – for the Dollywood program. The Magnolia Foundation, the non-profit arm of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, contributed $1000 for the Early Readers Fund. First Steps received $100 from the South Carolina Early Childhood Association (SCECA).

Adrienne Troy-Frazier, Berkeley County First Steps executive director, said the money will help the agency expand the Imagination Library to the most rural areas of the county. The grants will help Berkeley First Steps address its current waitlist of children, she said.

Vaudrien Ray, president of SCECA’s District 1, said, “We fully support programs and agencies that have a focus on quality literacy activities for young children. The Dollywood program is an opportunity to get rich literature into the homes and hearts of deserving children.”

Berkeley County Imagination Library seeks to:

  • Increase the number of books in the homes of children
  • Increase literacy activities in the homes of participating children
  • Increase parent-child interaction in the homes of participating children
  • Increase child interest in reading
  • Increase parent awareness of a child’s reading skills
  • Build a community of readers who can model the importance of reading for the next generation.

Books are selected with the intent to incorporate specific themes that target age- appropriate developmental milestones, Troy-Frazier said. “Imagination Library provides books to every child, children in need are not singled out based on income and every child has the opportunity to participate if funds are available. Berkeley County First Steps covers the cost of administering the program,” she said. “Grant funds are used to purchase books and enroll more children in the program. The cost per child is about $2.08 per month or $25 per year. Depending on the age of the child, it may cost up to $140 over the course of the program to help a child build skills that will last a lifetime.”

To make a tax-deductible contribution to Berkeley County First Steps Imagination Library and The Early Readers Fund call 843-863-3030. For more information, visit www.berkeleyfirststeps.org.