Vancouver Public Library Foundation receives $150K to bolster early literacy programs
A Hong Kong-based philanthropic foundation is donating $150,000 to support early literacy in Vancouver.
The Vancouver Public Library Foundation revealed the gift from the Simon K Y Lee Foundation on Monday, and says the funds will benefit three programs designed to reach families facing disadvantages.
This is the first time the foundation has given a gift to a public library in Canada, according to VPLF executive director Jenny Marsh, who explained the donation will be doled out in $50,000 over next three years.
“There’s a gap in supports for kids learning between birth and age five—before kindergarten there’s not a level playing field,” Marsh told CTV News on Monday. “the VPL has programs to support kids and families who are facing those gaps.”
Jason Lee, a board member of Simon K Y Lee Foundation, says his organization is excited about VPL’s early literacy programs.
“The Simon K Y Lee Foundation is a firm believer in the value of promoting better access to high-quality early childhood education,” Lee said in the release.
The programs receiving funding—Alligator Pie, Mother Goose and Inclusive Storytimes—impact over 10,000 children and their caregivers, according to the manager of philanthropy at VPL.
“Each year for the next three years VPL will be able to offer approximately 160-180 classes reaching up to 390 children and caregivers through the three funded programs,” said Ann Byczko.
She says each program typically runs between seven and nine weeks, and over 6,000 early literacy classes have been funded by VPLF to date.
According to its website, the Alligator Pie program helps families overcome barriers they may face when it comes to visiting libraries by sending librarians to daycares in vulnerable neighbourhoods.
The Mother Goose program is about “promoting oral literacy and strengthening bonds between parents and their children,” according to the online description.
“It’s often more about families with challenges—primarily female caregivers who are facing other difficulties in their life,” said Marsh. “Some of the moms have been in bereavement or have multiple children with learning differences or challenges. Basically, it’s a program for moms under a lot of stress that supports them a little bit better.”
She added Inclusive Storytimes is a newer program that was introduced last week to help children with learning and sensory differences.
“For some parents, attending regular children’s programming offered in their community can cause feelings of isolation, anxiety, and social distress, as their children may have atypical responses to the activities taking place,” reads the VPFL release. “Or, the families can be experiencing stress and trauma, dealing with inadequate housing, may be immigrant families with parents who are new to Canada, or families providing care to foster children.”
Marsh says a lot of families find it a huge relief to come to a place where their challenges aren’t an issue.
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