Project READ Parent Lab Receives State Literacy Grant
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Project READ Parent Lab Receives State Literacy Grant

Penny Severns Family Literacy Grant to fund program through 2021

A Parkland College Adult Education program that trains adult residents to assist their kids and grandkids with school subjects will soon receive funding from a new state family literacy grant and is currently looking for volunteer tutors to boost program offerings.

The Project READ "Parent and Family Learning Lab," which launched in February as "Parent Lab," has been awarded a fiscal year 2020 grant by the Illinois State Library's Penny Severns Family Literacy Program. The state program supports initiatives that provide comprehensive literacy instruction and support to families. To successfully provide this supportive structure for intergenerational learning and empowerment, Project READ must have 20 new tutors trained and certified by August 31.

A collaboration among Champaign Unit 4 Community Schools, the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Library, and Project READ, the Parent Lab features tutors who help adult residents familiarize themselves with the important skills and content that their kids and grandkids are doing at school, primarily by providing personalized English, math and reading support in various subjects.

About 20 participating families—adults and children—will continue to receive the one-on-one adult education (taught by Project READ tutors), K-5 education (taught by Unit 4 teachers), library services, childcare/parenting education (organized by the Parent Com University programs at Unit 4), and parent-child together time offered through the program, according to Dr. Amanda Harris, Project READ director.

"The core group of adults who have participated since the February launch have made measurable gains in their educational focuses (primarily ESL), and they have become familiar with school support staff and services through the tutoring site," Harris said. "They have also obtained library cards and made regular use of the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library.

Parents/adult family member participants must live with a child who goes to a Unit 4 school, be at least 17 years old, and be seeking ESL or Adult Basic Ed services (below High School level).

Those interested in becoming a Project READ tutor and tutoring adults can tutor adults in this new program and in other Project READ tutoring settings, which include Adult Education classrooms, drop-in tutoring sites, and one-to-one sites in the community.  Please sign up for one of the following volunteer training sessions by emailing or by registering at

  • July 18, 6–8 p.m. at Wesley Foundation

  • July 31, 6–7:30 p.m. at Parkland Adult Education  office, Building E, campus

  • Aug. 14,9–10:30 a.m. at Parkland Adult Education  office, Building E, campus

For more information, please call Project READ at 217/353-2662 or

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