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News Release

Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-9472

November 16, 2009

Bilingual literacy project to ‘roar’ back to life
with help from DeKalb County Community Foundation

Larry Bolles, board member of the DeKalb County Community Foundation, presents a check to Literacy Education professor Chris Carger.

DeKalb, Ill. — As funds for literacy education professor Chris Carger’s Project ROAR dwindled over the years, its reach simultaneously shrank until the program ultimately disappeared.

First to go was Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, followed by Aurora’s Archbishop Romero Catholic School; Carger deemed it wiser to spend the program’s limited dollars on DeKalb schools, books and art supplies rather than van rentals, gasoline and tolls.

Finally, despite having served three public and parochial schools in DeKalb, the project “roared” its last at Littlejohn Elementary School in the DeKalb Community Unit School District 428 a couple years ago.

But thanks to a grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation and other financial support from Northern Illinois University’s new Center for P-20 Engagement, it will return to Littlejohn’s three first-grade classrooms in the spring semester.

Twenty-five early childhood education or elementary education majors enrolled in LTRE 231, “Techniques of Tutoring,” will serve as tutors.

They will read books aloud to an estimated 75 mainstream and Latino first-graders for whom English is a second language, measure their comprehension and engage them in relevant art projects. Project ROAR, which stands for “Reaching Out through Art and Reading,” began in the NIU School of Art and eventually became funded by the College of Education.

“Project ROAR really benefits the children,” said Carger, who always funded the program through both internal and external grants. “The teachers tell us they don’t have time to do read-alouds, so we prepare and facilitate them.”

Carger, who received a $659 grant from the DCCF, will use the money to purchase new, high-quality children’s books that draw them into the stories as they learn English and widen their vocabulary.

Other NIU projects receiving DCCF funding this fall:

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