Portland, Oregon (March 7, 2018) – Early Learning Washington County hub (ELWC), a collaboration between Washington County Health and Human Services and United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, received a $100,000 grant for the “Bridging Cultures — Growing Early Scientists” project. The grant is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, and is administered by the State Library of Oregon.
The “Bridging Cultures – Growing Early Scientists” project will expand access to 2,000 free STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) literacy kits in Arabic, English, Somali and Spanish for children ages 3-6. Project partners include Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Oregon Department of Education's Early Learning Division (ODE), Portland Metro STEM Partnership, Vroom – an initiative of the Bezos Family Foundation – and the Hillsboro Public Library.
The project is bolstered by additional community collaborations with Washington County Child Care Resource & Referral and Portland Metro STEM partnership to offer STEM: Next Generation Science Standards training sessions for parents, educators and child care providers on how to implement STEM concepts into early childhood education in a holistic manner. Due to this effort, educators were able to accrue between 400 and 480 Professional Developments hours under Set I complying with the requirements of the Oregon Registry Online (ORO). Working with ODE and the Bezos Family Foundation, ELWC will also be adding VROOM decks to the STEM early kits in English, Spanish, Somali and Arabic.
The STEM kits will reinforce the five important early literacy practices of Observe, Explore, Design, Question and Build. The kits are designed to be used by parents and children together and make it easier for parents to connect the learning that takes place at school with learning and activities in the home. The kits will be distributed by June 30, 2018 by a variety of partners including Family Resource Managers, Head Start programs, Early Intervention programs, Preschool Promise and Iraqi Society of Oregon amongst others.
Through this same grant the Hillsboro Public Library is in the process of building a permanent collection of more than 1,000 new culturally and linguistically appropriate books for children and adults in Arabic, Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese, Farsi, Marshallese and Chuukese. The additions will also include wordless picture books. With this grant, resources will dramatically increase not only for the Hillsboro Public Library world languages section but also for all members of the Washington County Cooperative Library Services.
About Early Learning Washington County
ELWC is one of sixteen early learning hubs working across Oregon to ensure children age six and under and their families are stable, healthy and ready to succeed in kindergarten. ELWC focuses on reducing disparities and boosting academic success for marginalized communities including kids of color and kids living in poverty.
About United Way
At United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, we have a simple, ambitious vision – to invest in our region’s kids so they are free from poverty in order to be free to reach their potential. United Way of the Columbia-Willamette has been bringing our community together to do good for nearly 100 years. We’re uniquely positioned to connect and support the people, nonprofits, businesses and government agencies working hard to address poverty in our region. When we invest in our region’s kids, we free the future.