Promoting Early Literacy Across Chicago

Categories: Early Learning

On June 28th, 2017 the Chicago Public Library Foundation traveled with a group of donors on a visit to our West Englewood Branch to show how investments in early literacy are taking hold in the community.

PNC Bank has provided funding for the Words to Grow On program since 2016 based on studies that indicate children from low-income families hear roughly 30 million fewer words by age 3 than their more affluent peers! PNC partnered with the Chicago Public Library Foundation because of our work funding early learning initiatives at Chicago Public Library that prepare children with the basic building blocks for literacy. The goal is to increase vocabulary building and language acquisition for young children in select communities. The program promotes parent-child interactions, library staff model good language and vocabulary building, and increase parental awareness about the importance of early childhood language development.

Funding from PNC also went into converting children’s areas into early learning play spaces to promote the way children actively learn — through play. Children’s areas in Kelly, Sherman Park, Lozano, Toman and Little Village branch libraries include a refresh with new materials, toys, games, programming resources and modular furniture for young learners.

The West Englewood branch serves the neighborhoods of West Englewood and Englewood. In 2016, over 1,800 children participated in the Summer Learning Challenge at this branch. This summer, the West Englewood Branch will host a variety of activities for children of all ages, from story time, to Super Reading sessions, to Super Crafts, and more. Additionally, during the 2015-2016 academic year, West Englewood’s Teacher in the Library program provided 895 one-on-one help sessions between teacher and student.

This West Englewood Branch opened on August 23rd, 2003 as part of Chicago’s Street Revitalization Project. It was one of the first “green” libraries in the Chicago Public Library system, featuring an energy efficient and environmentally sustainable construction. It is one of CPL’s busiest branches, averaging over 10,000 visits per month.

Programs at West Englewood are made possible through donations from individuals and corporate sponsors. We’d like to give special thanks to the Donnelley Family Foundation and PNC Bank for their generous contributions.

Our mission to support communities across Chicago is made possible through generous donations from individuals and corporate partners. Donate here to invest in your Chicago Public Library with a gift to the Chicago Public Library Foundation.