Let the Reading Begin: A Mini-Grant Story 

Ms. Short, an Indiana-based educator said, "Every project I facilitate brings out the best in all of my students and is also an excellent avenue for facilitating parent/family/community involvement."   

Forty 6-8th grade students and eight junior level university students participated in the project Let the Reading Begin with the support of a Learning to Give mini-grant. Ms. Short infused the video "What is Philanthropy?" and the lessons "Empowering Students through Service-Learning" and "What is Philanthropy? A Call to Action." The video and lessons provided a springboard that helped students generate ideas for service-learning projects and helped give the university students some background knowledge about service-learning projects.  

Ms. Short's students project centered around literacy. The students were fortunate to collaborate with students at the University of Southern Indiana while creating a 62-page full-color, bound, glossy covered, published book to sell to community members interested in supporting the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Warrick County, IN.    

The process of writing, illustrating, and publishing the book improved students' writing skills and the development of the writing process. Since the book project theme was focused on positive character traits, students were able to connect some of the traits they generatewith the characteristics of a philanthropist and, ideally, carry those traits throughout their lives.  

Some students had thunique experience of being interviewed on live TV, for recorded news shows, and for local newspapers. The students shared their feelings about the project through these interviews. All of the students were excited to be an author and/or illustrator for such a great cause!  

The $500 Learning to Give mini-grant was also a collaborative effort between Ms. Short and the USI students. The grant was used to publish 138 copies of the book and put students in a position to make a difference in their community for the coming year.