Members of the Rotary Club of Providence and the Providence Rotary Charities Foundation are joining forces to help maintain literacy among Providence school children over this summer of pandemic uncertainty. We'll be purchasing literacy enrichment kits for distribution at city parks where children gather to receive meals. Each kit contains a copy of Highlights magazine, some crayons and fun stickers. Staff members from Providence PlayCorps will show the kids how to enjoy the variety of fun and educational content in Highlights.
 The foundation will contribute $5,000 from the Childhood Literacy Initiative to purchase 1,000 kits. Rotarians and friends are invited to make donations with a goal of $2,500 for an additional 500 kits.
You can contribute securely online - CLICK HERE.
With one distribution in July and one in August, our Summer Fun(d) will serve approximately 750 children, including many from our partner school, Harry Kizirian Elementary.
This summer, due to COVID -19, PlayCorps will introduce Eat, Play Learn Kits, a “grab and go” resource appropriate for creativity and engagement in the age of social distancing. Eat, Play, Learn kits include materials and instructions for creating age-appropriate Do It Yourself projects. Designed in collaboration with internal departments and other community based organizations (CBOs), kits will be distributed at meal distribution sites by PlayCorps staff that engage youth safely according to state guidelines. PlayCorps staff will be trained on what engagement looks like for each kit being distributed.
Some of the CBOs that are sponsoring kits to be distributed this summer (more are becoming involved as summer approaches) are:
  • Providence Art, Culture & Tourism
  • Providence Urban Wildlife Partnership
  • YMCA of Greater Providence
  • Museum of Natural History
  • URI Snap-Education
  • Partnership for Providence Parks
  • Providence Community Libraries
  • Summer Off – Philip Center
The Rotary Opportunity
Encouraging students to read and engage in other learning activities over the summer is known to be helpful in maintaining students’ momentum for a better start when classes resume in the fall. This is especially important considering the major disruption to education due to the pandemic this spring.
Two Rotarians with special interest and skills – Providence Parks Dept. Program Supervisor Christy Clausen and retired teacher Connie Donnelly – have proposed that the club’s Childhood Literacy Initiative fund Eat, Play, Learn kits for distributions at meal sites once each in July and August. Our kits would include a copy of Highlights magazine, a box of crayons, a Rotary-labeled string bag and some Rotary non-permanent tattoos. Cost would be approximately $5.00 each, including a discounted rate from the magazine.
First published in 1946, Highlights is the same trusted children’s magazine in the most important ways. The experts at Highlights still know how to keep kids motivated with fun while they are learning and practicing the essential skills they will need in school. Appropriate for ages 6-12.
Assembly of the kits would take place at the Roger Williams Park Casino. Providence Rotarians would be welcome, but not required, to take part.
In accordance with the Childhood Literacy Initiative’s goal of measuring the impact of its activities, we will put together a small focus group of youth/families from the Kizirian School, and possibly one other school, to follow into the new school year and see how these kits were received, utilized and how they benefited them. This year’s survey results could form a baseline for comparison with similar efforts in future years.
Funding Sources
The Childhood Literacy Initiative will provide $5,000 for two distributions at 4-5 sites each.
The club is conducting a fundraising drive with a goal of $2,500 that would allow us to increase coverage up to as many as eight sites, extending the reach of our efforts to students from additional schools throughout the city.