$60K grant helps make Pottstown school libraries more diverse

The Foundation for Pottstown Education Awarded a Grant by the Justamere Foundation for the six Pottstown School District Libraries

The Foundation for Pottstown Education is proud to announce the receipt of a $60,330 grant to enable the purchase of a diverse collection of books for all six of Pottstown School District Libraries.  This generous grant was provided by the Justamere Foundation and will provide more than 2,700 books underscoring the commitment to fostering inclusivity and representation within the Pottstown School District.

Foundation Executive Director, Joe Rusiewicz teamed up with the four District Librarians, Kristen Ellis, Andrea Roberts, Ted Freese and Nikki Alutius to prepare the grant seeking funds to purchase the books. Pottstown School District’s minority enrollment is 68.6% and 68.8% of the student population is economically disadvantaged.  Prior to the new collection of books, only 30% of the books in the libraries were diverse and only 4% were published since 2018.

One of Justamere Foundation’s areas of focus is childhood literacy.  According to their Foundation website: Reading is essential. Fostering a love of reading and learning opens so many doors as children grow up. We support organizations with programs that focus on education and literacy resources for children in underserved areas.

Rusiewicz stated that he felt the District’s need met this area.  The grant was submitted and awarded to the Foundation for Pottstown Education in January.  Since then, the librarians have been busy unpacking, cataloging and shelving the 2,758 books that were provided.

And the students’ reaction?  Kyle, Barth Third Grader responded” This character looks like me and he runs fast too!”

Barth Fourth Grader, Kira said “It is interesting because Chinese New Year is different than ours and I’d like to learn about it.”

“I love these books! This one is my favorite because it is when she got her first hijab.” Kyla, Barth Fourth Grader responded when asked about her reaction to the new books.

The acquisition of diverse literature is a crucial step towards creating inclusive learning spaces where all students feel valued and represented.  By offering access to books that feature characters, themes and narratives from diverse backgrounds, the Pottstown School District Libraries can play a pivotal role in promoting empathy, understanding, and cultural appreciation among the students.

Justamere Foundation President, Lori Cushman remarked “It’s no surprise that reading is foundational to future prosperity. If you can show a kid a better world, one that they can see themselves in, you’ve opened up a door in their mind that allows unfathomable possibilities.”

The Foundation for Pottstown Education, the District Librarians and most importantly our District students and parents are truly grateful to the Justamere Foundation for their generous gift of these books.

About FPE:  The mission of the Foundation for Pottstown Education is to raise funds for and support life-changing educational opportunities for the students and teachers in the Pottstown School District promoting the enhancement of our communityVisit www.foundationpottstowned.org for more information about the Foundation for Pottstown Education.  You can also follow FPE on Facebook.

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