U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Friday highlighted National Head Start Awareness Month by reading to students at Lewisburg Elementary School and announcing the opening of a new round of federal grant applications to promote local reading programs across the country.
"Reading is the cornerstone to education; it opens minds to possibilities and doors to opportunities," said Rahall. "As we in West Virginia explore ways to broaden the economic horizons for our young people, we cannot neglect something so basic and so enriching as reading, and, for so many students, that begins with Head Start."
During his visit to Lewisburg Elementary, Rahall read to pre-k students to raise awareness about the importance of Head Start school readiness programs. In West Virginia, hundreds of students' access to educational and health services are in jeopardy due to proposed budget cuts in the Congress.
"Head Start is key to ensuring that early education opportunities are available to all children and families, not just the wealthiest among us. That is why I fight back hard in Congress against extreme budget cuts that would undermine the efforts of our caring educators and parents who work hard to positively influence our children and prepare them for school and beyond," said Rahall.
Rahall said that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is offering grants, ranging from $2,500 to $20,000, to support community wide-reading programs that facilitate and encourage reading.
Organizations selected to participate in the NEA's "Big Read" receive a grant, access to online training resources and opportunities, and educational and promotional materials designed to support widespread community involvement. Eligible applicants include organizations such as libraries, museums, colleges and universities, art centers, historical societies, humanities councils, literary festivals, and arts organizations.
"I encourage all organizations and individuals interested in instilling our kids with a love of reading to consider applying to participate in this national NEA program. And I urge West Virginia families to stand up for our kids by speaking out in support of Head Start," said Rahall.
To learn more about the Big Read, including current programming, applicants should visit www.neabigread.org.